Members of a New Bedford longshoremen’s union were still protesting on Wednesday at the city’s Marine Commerce Terminal over hiring decisions related to construction of the nation’s first major offshore wind farm.
Local 1413 of the International Longshoremen’s Association has accused the project’s developer, Vineyard Wind, of falling short on promises to hire a local and diverse workforce. The longshoremen’s union has traditionally been a source of employment for Cape Verdean men in New Bedford, and the union’s membership remains predominantly Black to this day.
High-ranking ILA officials have been pushing in recent weeks for a contract that guarantees full-time work for local longshoremen unloading turbine parts and other cargo. Twelve ILA members have already been working part-time on the project tying up ships, but the union’s leaders have been pushing for a larger scope of work that includes operating cranes and vehicles used to transport the massive turbine parts around the pier. Currently, Vineyard Wind’s contractors have assigned that work to another labor union, the International Union of Operating Engineers.
The ILA’s picket at the main entrance to the state-owned Marine Commerce Terminal is causing expensive delays on the project, as dozens of workers from other unions and the crew of the ship that carried the first turbine components into the port last week wait for negotiations with the ILA to conclude. The delay could eventually cause a bottleneck at the terminal as other vessels carrying turbine components wait to dock at the facility.
The ship carried six sections of turbine towers into the port last Wednesday and was originally scheduled to leave on Sunday. As of Tuesday evening, most of its cargo remains unloaded.
A Vineyard Wind spokesperson said the company still expects to achieve its goal of delivering electricity to Massachusetts before the end of the year. The wind farm is projected to generate 800 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 400,000 homes in Massachusetts.
This story is a production of a partnership between The Public’s Radio in Rhode Island and WBUR in which the news organizations collaborate and share stories. This story was originally published by The Public's Radio.