Atlantic Shores, six unions sign agreement to use train and hire N.J. union workers in offshore wind projects

white wind turbine generating electricity on sea

The offshore wind industry in New Jersey is strengthening its connection and partnership with union labor.

On Thursday, Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind — the 50-50 joint venture between EDF Renewables North America and Shell New Energies US — announced a first-of-its-kind memorandum of understanding with six unions operating in New Jersey as part of its bid submission, committing to help develop and employ a productive, safe, well-trained local workforce.

With this agreement, Atlantic Shores is solidifying that the state’s burgeoning offshore wind industry will be a creator of new, union workforce opportunities for decades to come.

The labor agreement is the strongest commitment to date by a U.S. offshore wind developer to train local residents and tradespeople and use union labor and employers wherever possible. It was signed by:

New Jersey appears ready to become a national leader in green economy job creation, officials said.

Joris Veldhoven, commercial director at Atlantic Shores, said it will do so in tandem with organized labor.

“Union labor helped to build New Jersey, and, if our bid is selected, union labor will be central to building its renewable energy infrastructure and sustainable future,” Veldhoven said. “As a developer, we are proud to commit to working with these six unions, training and cultivating a robust offshore wind workforce. We hope this will serve as a model for local labor partnerships in the offshore wind industry.”

Union officials in the state and region agreed.

Bill Sproule, executive secretary treasurer of Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, which serves New Jersey and six other mid-Atlantic states, said the agreement helps both parties.

“We’re very pleased to have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Atlantic Shores,” he said. “They appreciate the value that working with New Jersey’s organized labor brings to the offshore wind industry.

“Organized labor offers the most skilled and best trained men and women in the state, with the skills necessary for this industry to grow. Atlantic Shores is taking a proactive approach to working with local unions through signing this agreement, and we look forward to our future together.”

Specifically, this agreement outlines how the unions and Atlantic Shores will work together to:

  • Create state-of-the-art training and apprenticeship programs for New Jersey workers, to support not just the project, but the broader offshore wind industry;
  • Further integrate union workers into the offshore wind workforce, including encouraging suppliers or contractors bidding to be part of the project to enter into labor agreements; and
  • Support the Helmets to Hardhats Program, which helps military and Coast Guard personnel, as well as National Guardsmen and Reservists, transition into careers in offshore wind.

If the Atlantic Shores project is selected, it would create hundreds of direct local jobs and generate as much as 2,300 megawatts of renewable energy, powering the equivalent of over 1 million homes.

A number of union leaders saluted the announcement:

  • Ray Woodall, business manager at Ironworkers Local 11: “The Ironworkers are excited to partner with Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind and the other crafts to be a part of this landmark agreement that will lead to the training and employment of our members in New Jersey.”
  • Greg Lalavee, business manager for IUOE Local 825: “We are proud of the steps Local 825 has already taken to transform our training centers into institutions of higher learning to prepare our members for the jobs of the future. Operating Engineers are poised to be the go-to location for the training required to build green infrastructure in the safest and most efficient way possible. This signed agreement with Atlantic Shores validates all of these efforts and our partnership ensures that New Jersey is ground zero for these training efforts. We could not be more pleased to be part of this achievement.”
  • Mark Longo, director of ELEC825: “The economic future for New Jersey, and the country, will rest on our ability to deliver affordable, reliable energy — this means navigating the complicated regulatory processes that engulf siting energy generation and transmission. Anything that streamlines the process is a huge win for all New Jersey. We applaud this proactive step toward making this project a reality through a partnership with the hard-working men and women of the construction trades.”