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October 31, 2008

'On issues from A to Z, Barack Obama is with us'

Union trades rally for Employee Free Choice Act

Labor's push for labor law reforms are overdue, NLRB member says

Bonior: 'We have a union-busting mentality in this country

'We built this country and it's time we took it back' - Union members urged to vote

Don't be distracted on Election Day

News Briefs


'On issues from A to Z, Barack Obama is with us'

By Press Associates
Union News Service

In its 55 years as the leading weekly independent news service for unions, their members and their media, Press Associates Union News Service has never endorsed a political candidate. Until now.

We have been critical of politicians of both parties who are anti-worker, but as a professional voice for workers, we decided not to endorse any one individual. Like many unionists, we believe labor should have "no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, only permanent interests." And we have been critical of policies, regardless of who pushed them, that hurt workers.

But we are coming to the end of the most venal, vicious, anti-labor hate-filled reign of a U.S. president since the Gilded Age, if not before, of Republican George W. Bush. Bush will finally, and for once, obey the U.S. Constitution by leaving office as scheduled on Jan. 20, 2009. His party's anointed nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, promises more of the same in policies, if not in the outright hate.

By contrast, in Democratic Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, we have the most pro-worker presidential nominee, based on his past track record, since 1968, when the late Hubert Humphrey was running to succeed Lyndon Johnson.

On workers' issues from A to Z, Barack Obama is with us, and John McCain is not. The evidence is overwhelming, but some examples will suffice:

*Obama strongly supports the Employee Free Choice Act, designed to level the playing field between workers and bosses in organizing and bargaining. It would impose hefty fines for labor law-breaking, make it easier to get court injunctions against employers who break the law and order mandatory arbitration if unions and bosses do not agree on a first contract within 120 days of starting bargaining.

Most importantly, the Employee Free Choice Act would write into law the 45-year-old option workers now have for card-check recognition of unions in the workplace, if a majority of covered workers signs National Labor Relations Board election authorization cards. However, that occurs only if the employer agrees.

Legalizing card check recognition would remove the employer's right to deprive workers of that route to unionization. Card check would be up to the workers. It would short-circuit employers' venal, vicious and illegal anti-union campaigning. Under the Employee Free Choice Act, elections are still an option, when workers agree to them.

Obama voted to stop the GOP filibuster that killed the Employee Free Choice Act. McCain voted for the filibuster - and now denounces the act, though not by name, on the campaign trail. He also lies about it. So do his backers. Don't believe them.

*Just over a decade ago, McCain strongly supported a national "right-to-work" law, a favorite cause of the Radical Right that backs Bush and McCain. By contrast, while a state senator, Obama strongly supported an Illinois bill outlawing use of "striker replacements," or scabs. The Democratic platform also supports outlawing scabs.

The national right-to-work law, thankfully, went nowhere. The Illinois anti-scab law Obama backed, was passed, signed - and bounced by the state Supreme Court.

*The GOP-named majority on the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to deny Lilly Ledbetter, and other female workers, the right to sue their employers for pay discrimination based on sex, except during their first 180 days on the job.

The House approved legislation overturning the court's Ledbetter ruling. Please note the 180-day limit applies not just to discrimination based on sex, but also pay discrimination based on other factors, including race.

The Senate GOP again sustained a filibuster and killed the Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay Act. Obama, in a tight primary campaign, took time out to fly back to Washington to vote for the equal pay bill. McCain missed the vote, but later said he opposes the bill because women, don't have the "education and experience" for equal pay.

* Obama has promised future trade pacts will include enforceable workers' rights in their texts. That will help workers by removing much of the incentive for rapacious corporations to close profitable plants in the U.S. and reopen them in developing nations. Obama promised to sit down with the Canadian prime minister and the Mexican president to renegotiate the model for those job-destroying pacts, NAFTA.

*McCain voted for every job-losing trade pact. He took time out from his campaign to travel to Mexico to champion NAFTA, and to Colombia, which has had a record 2,550+ unionists assassinated in the last decade-plus - some at the behest of U.S.-based multinationals - to endorse the U.S.-Colombia "free trade" agreement.

So for all those reasons, and more, including his plans to help workers hurt by the suffering economy, Press Associates Union News Service - like Obama's hometown staunchly Republican paper, The Chicago Tribune - now breaks with its tradition to endorse Barack Obama for the presidency of the United States.


Union trades rally for Employee Free Choice Act

'If you will help us get Barack Obama elected and a Democratic majority in the House and Senate, we will do that next year'
- Congressman John Dingell (D-15th District)

By Marty Mulcahy
Managing Editor

DETROIT - More than 2,000 trade union members from around Michigan marched to a parking lot next to the McNamara federal building on Saturday morning, Oct. 18, and got an earful about what's not working for working people in America these days.

Namely they heard about federal labor law and the Employee Free Choice Act, and which candidate is likely to support pro-worker changes (Barack Obama) and which candidate is likely to keep things the way they are (John McCain).

The location of the rally was symbolically held next to the high-rise building along Michigan Avenue that houses the National Labor Relations Board headquarters for Detroit and Michigan. Unions have accused the Republican majority on the NLRB as being the poster children for the assault on the nation's working class, and putting the business community in front of American workers' right to organize.

The rally was organized by Justice For Workers Now, a group led by Michigan Pipe Trades organizer Mark Bott out of Plumbers Local 98, and IBEW Local 665 President Ray Michaels. Building trades workers, who came via car and bus from all over the Lower Peninsula, comprised the vast majority of the audience. Another demonstration was held in July at the site. Michaels called the rally "fantastic" and expressed his admiration for those willing to travel long distances to Detroit on a Saturday morning.

Bott told the crowd that as an organizer, he has never failed to see a worker fired during an organizing campaign, and that employers' typical reaction to an organizing drive is to stall so that they can coerce employees not to vote for union representation.

"Employers drag out the process for two or three years, and by that time four or five union supporters may get fired," he said. "The Employee Free Choice Act will stop that."

Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council CEO Patrick Devlin, who emceed the event, told the crowd, "The National Labor Relations Board over the last several years has massacred the dignity of workers and trampled on their rights in the workplace. The NLRB has turned decades of established labor law upside down, and abandoned their responsibility to properly administer federal labor law."

Speakers at the rally included AFL-CIO Building Trades Department President Mark Ayers, Secretary-Treasurer Sean McGarvey, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Rich Trumka, Michigan AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney, IBEW General President Ed Hill, Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons President Patrick Finley, Iron Workers General Secretary Mike Fitzpartick (retired), Teamsters International Union Representative Kevin Moore, and U.S. Rep. John Dingell.

The Employee Free Choice Act passed the U.S. House last year, but there was not a sufficient majority in the Senate to override a filibuster. President Bush would have vetoed it, anyway.

"Republicans have long tried to undermine the National Labor Relations Act.," said Congressman John Dingell at the rally. "That's why we need the Employee Free Choice Act. If you will help us get Barack Obama elected and a Democratic majority in the House and Senate, we will do that next year."

The EFCA would allow a bargaining group to join a union through a simple "card check" process. When a union thinks it has a majority of workers ready to have a union bargain for them, cards would be signed by employees indicating whether they support the union. The law would also create stricter penalties for law-breaking employers.

Currently, federal law requires the use of a formal secret ballot election - which would be fine, except employers are allowed to drag out the process before an election is held and use that time to threaten or coerce workers, or as Bott indicated, fire workers who support the union

"EFCA promises to take what is now a nasty, bruising, and hopelessly lawyer-dominated organizing process and turn it into a simple and equitable matter of getting a majority of employees to sign union cards," said Jefferson Cowie an associate professor of history at Cornell University.

"In addition to simple 'card check' or majority verification, EFCA provides mechanisms to prevent employers from starting a war of attrition against workers once they have selected a union by sending the issue to mediation if 90 days pass without a contract. It also contains several protections for workers including treble back pay for the discriminatory discharge of union organizers."

Cowie continued: "Most advocates of labor law reform argue from a position of simple fairness, and that case is easy to make. There has been a war on organized labor in the last two decades, and private sector union density is now down to a paltry 8%. Labor law, originally designed to 'encourage' collective bargaining, has been reduced to little more than a management tool. The national labor relations machinery allows employers to be militantly, aggressively, hostile to the decisions of their employees even though three-fourths of all Americans think employers should be neutral. There are reportedly over 50 million Americans out there with an interest in joining a union but who do not have fair mechanisms available for doing so."

Unions see passage of the EFCA as part of the potential tidal wave of change expected to overcome Washington, D.C. after the Nov. 4 election, fueled by disgust over Main Street's financial bailout of Wall Street, exorbitant executive pay, stagnant worker wages and loss of workers' health care and pension/401k wealth.

The business community sees it coming, too. Management attorney Hal Coxson told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's "Labor Policy at a Crossroads" conference that when it comes to labor law, "significant, fundamental changes are disturbing, but are quite possible."

TRADE UNIONISTS gathered in a parking lot next to the NLRB headquarters in Detroit on Oct. 18 to support the Employee Free Choice Act and Barack Obama for president.


Labor's push for labor law reforms are overdue, NLRB member says

WASHINGTON - Job insecurity, Wall Street malfeasance, and the increasing loss of health and retirement benefits are causing American workers to sound a "rising crescendo" of discontent.

National Labor Relations Board member Wilma Liebman used that term to describe her take on the American workers' psyche these days during the days before the Nov. 4 election. She added that the discontent could put the nation on the brink of a "perfect storm" for changes in public labor law.

The controversy over deeply divided National Labor Relations Act rulings "has led to further scrutiny of labor law, which has been marginalized and has not been part of the economic debate for too long," she added.

Liebman was part of a mix of pro-business and pro-labor speakers invited to talk on Oct. 2 at a conference sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce called "Labor Policy at a Crossroads." Liebman was appointed to her position in 1997, and has twice been reappointed by President Bush as one of the two minority Democratic members of the five-member NLRB panel.

The Chamber's conference moderator said when he worked at the U.S. Department of Labor in 2001, "one of the things that surprised me most was how little change there has been in labor policy for decades." The Wagner Act created the National Labor Relations Board and encouraged the formation of unions in 1935, and the Republican-backed Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, adopted over President Truman's veto, placed restrictions on union clout. OSHA came along in the 1970s. The Family Medical Leave Act was adopted in the 1990s.

Now, he said. "we stand potentially at the brink of the most dramatic change" in half a century for U.S. labor law. "What's driving the change," he said. "is the remarkable resurgence of organized labor as a powerhouse in American politics."

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donahue told the audience that unions and management have worked together well on recent issues, like the Pension Protection Act, immigration reform and increasing infrastructure spending.

However, "in this election," Donahue said. "both sides are fighting for different versions of how the government should regulate the workplace." He cautioned against a "Europeanized" economic system where unions have more clout than in the U.S. Donahue also cautioned against the presence of too much government, and said businesses should be allowed to "structure themselves in a way that works best for them to compete in a global economy."

He said the business community's "current labor policy" revolves around an agenda "that has worked for more than 60 years." But all those years without labor law reform is not a good thing in today's world, Liebman said. "Congressional silence for over 60 years on labor law and policy… has made it difficult to apply the law in a coherent way," especially given the vast changes in workplaces over the years, she said.

Liebman said after eight years of the Bush administration - which she pointed out highlighted its anti-labor bent with the refusal to allow Homeland Security Department workers to organize - "we're at a unique moment" in American history. She said more than just labor law reform is needed. "We need creative leadership. We need a clear message and legal structure with teeth. We need to minimize the adversarial relationship between labor and management."

Current labor law was spawned during the Great Depression, and now history may be repeating itself. "Current labor law is a product of earlier economic crisis (namely the Great Depression)," Liebman said. "With the turmoil we're seeing now, we're likely to see new initiatives, if for nothing else to save capitalism from itself. The post-war social contract is crumbling. What will we do to replace it?"


Bonior: 'We have a union-busting mentality in this country

Following are excerpts of comments made by former Democratic Congressman David Bonior at the Employee Free Choice Act rally in Detroit on Oct.18. Bonior is chairman of American Rights at Work, a national advocacy organization launched in 2003 to advance workers' rights to organize and collectively bargain.

"I think everybody is here for a reason, you're tired of the same old thing. We have been saddled in this country with a government that has been incompetent and government that has practiced malfeasance. They need to leave Washington D.C. This crowd has done so much damage to this country.

"But change is coming - you can feel it in the air. When 93 percent of this people in this country say they want a new direction, by God we're going to get a new direction. And that direction has to include the Employee Free Choice Act.

"In 1935 the Wagner Act was passed it gave people the right and encouragement to form a union. That word, union, again will be a proud word from those who are governing this country. We will turn the tide on the direction of the union density numbers in America. And we will do it because people understand that if you belong to a labor union in the USA today you'll get 28 percent more pay than someone with a similar job, 62 percent more likely to get health benefits, four times more likely to get health benefits. You get a voice at work and dignity and a voice at work. All of that comes with that package.

"A Peter Hart poll of America people said if they could join a union, 62 percent said 'yes I would.'

"The reason we only have 13 percent union density is we have a have a union-busting mentality in this country that was put together by the right wing. They planned this out. They planned out the idea to make the NLRB process just about impossible to get a union formed today. We're going to get this Employee Free Choice Act passed because people are sick and tired. They're sick and tired of people at the top being able to work with a contract. You think a CEO would work without a contract? Doesn't every worker in the U.S. deserve a contract?

"The EFCA does three things. It allows people to do what's called majority sign up. When more than 50 percent of people sign a card, it's verified, you've got a union. Just like they do in Canada and 79 other countries around the world. That's what we need.

"And once people have a union, then they have a right to a speedy contract. No more six months, no more one year, no more two years of dragging it out until it all disappears.

"And thirdly we need to have some good penalties in there for those who violate the law. Because the law is violated every single day in this country - 20,000 to 30,000 workers in this country are fired every year, discriminated against in the workplace for trying to form a union. Those are the numbers that come out of the National Labor Relations Board, the numbers are probably much higher because everybody does it.

"So our job is to make that known to the American people. That we want to level the playing field. And our job is to get Barack Obama elected president and to get a Democratic Congress and to get the Employee Free Choice Act done quickly as one of the first orders of business, if not the first, when the new Congress convenes in January.

"The fight does not end on Nov. 4. There are people who are going to resist voting for this. We'll pass it in the House again. I don't want a member of the House to tell you, 'I'm going to vote for that' - I want you up here speaking about it, I want you to talk to your colleagues about this, I want you to be a leader on this. That's what we need to demand from every member of the U.S. Congress.

"When we're done we will create a tidal wave of justice in this country we have not seen since 1935 when all this began. If we pass the Employee Free Choice Act we will have millions of workers joining a union within a relatively short period of time in this country. It will be a movement that we can be proud of. It will be a movement of a coalition of worker justice. It will be a movement that will send a message to the rest of the country that we believe in families, that we believe in the American Way, the way it's supposed to be."

FORMER CONGRESSMAN and American Rights at Work Chairman David Bonior speaks to the rally in Detroit on Oct. 18.


'We built this country and it's time we took it back' - Union members urged to vote

Following are excerpts of comments by various speakers at the Oct. 18 Employee Free Choice rally.

Rich Trumka secretary treasurer of AFL-CIO -

"I have some bad news for you today. It's bad news for the Chamber of Commerce, it's bad news for the Business Roundtable, it's god-awful news for the ABC - because the news is on Nov. 4 working people in Michigan are going to send a progressive new leader to Washington.

"A new leaders who believes working people ought to have a seat at the table. A new leader who believes in collective bargaining. A new leader who believes the NLRB ought to be in the business of union building, not union busting.

"A new leader who understands in his heart is that what's wrong with the American labor movement is that we're not too strong, is that we're not strong enough. Ladies and gentlemen the name of that leader is Barack Obama.

"It's been eight long miserable years of the most anti-labor president of our generation. And we have the chance to elect the most pro-labor president of our time. Barack Obama understands that it was unions who built the American middle class, and given a chance it will be the union movement that rebuilds the middle class.

"Passing the Employee Free Choice Act isn't just one of our priorities. The truth is, it is our only priority. It has to be. It has to be because business fire workers in one out of every four organizing drives. It is, because just because someone in that NLRB office says an employer has to sit down and bargain, there's only a one in three chance they'll come to an agreement. That may be the idea of how corporate America thinks our country should be, but it sure is hell isn't our idea of what the country should be.

"John McCain is not only against the right to organize, he's for a national right to work law that could eliminate our unions entirely. He fought against Davis-Bacon, he fought against minimum wage, he fought against prevailing wage. And I guess it goes without saying that he's not shy about crossing picket lines.

"This is what he said to the Oklahoma state legislature about collective bargaining: 'we must not let good workers be crippled by the fine print of the latest union contract.'

"I know the opinion polls say we're looking pretty good in Michigan. I also know that four years ago the polls said at this time that John Kerry was going to defeat George Bush. That's why we can't let our guard down for a minute.

"You need to let everyone you know, know one thing: a union member voting for John McCain is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders. Our members need to know that if they want the right to bargain for good wages, if they want the right to bargain for good health care for themselves and their family, if they want the right to the dignity and the respect that can only come with a strong union contract, there's only one candidate who cares about working people and who believes that strong unions have to be part of our country's future, there's only one candidate who is going to sign the Employee Free Choice Act, and that is Barack Obama.

"We've been beaten around pushed around long enough. It's time we started pushing back. Pushing back for our jobs. Pushing back for our families. We are the American labor movement. We built this country and it's time we took it back."

AFL-CIO Building Trades Department President Mark Ayers -

"You already know it. People here get it. Cleveland gets it. Yesterday we were in Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh gets it. This is the best crowd we've seen yet.

"In the last debate John McCain accused Senator Obama of starting a class war. I'll tell ya, the class war started 30 years ago with Ronald Reagan, and continued with Bush 1, Bush 2, and now Bush 3 - John McCain. Barack Obama will end the class war that he didn't start.

"And he'll end it by signing the Employee Free Choice Act if we put in him the White House. If we do our job he'll do his.

"If John McCain is elected president of the U.S., he is going to protect Smith Barney on Wall Street. If Barack Obama becomes our president he will protect Barney Smith on Main Street.

"But we're going to have to turn out to get him elected. "Time and time again they have relied on labor to turn this country around. We will do it again. But it will be the last time we're going to get them out of this mess.

"For us this election will be about survival. If we don't win, we'll survive, but it won't be pretty."

Congressman John Dingell (D-15th District) -

"If you like to hunt and fish, don't worry about voting for Barack Obama. He's going to see to it that you keep your guns and that you can afford to hunt and fish.

We've had eight years of the worst administration since Caligula. He appointed his horse Counsel of the Roman Empire. Well this president has been worse. After George Bush went into office, the deficit has grown bigger every year. He came into a prosperous country and labor was fine. We were enjoying a good standard of living. Since then Michigan has lost 4,000 jobs a month during this administration.

"Republicans have always been trying to undo the National Labor Relations Act. That's why we need the Employee Free Choice Act, and that's what you'll get if you help get Barack Obama elected, and if you elect Democrats in the House and Senate."

Michigan AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney -

"This is a union town, and this is a union state, and if we do our job in two weeks this will be a trade union nation.

"This election is not over yet. You thought John McCain just suspended his campaign. Naah, he didn't do that. We can't give up we have to keep working one union member at a time, one job site at a time, to use our union power to elect union-friendly candidates."

IBEW General President Edwin Hill -

"I want to say thanks to you. We've been to Pittsburgh. We've been to Cleveland. We've been to Detroit and this is the biggest crowd that we've had.

"You have heard all the reasons why we need to elect Barack Obama. You heard about the EFCA the National Labor Relations Board. Let me give you the final one.

"One thing you have to understand, is survival. If we don't win this election, stick your head between your legs and kiss it goodbye.. We'll survive, but it won't be a pretty scene. "

Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons President Patrick Finley -

"We've got a choice to make. We can either vote for our jobs, health care or taxes, all the things Barack Obama stands for, or continue along with 'President' Cheney.

"We've got to remember one thing. We've got Congress people on the Hill who say they support us, but they put their hand on their mouth and whisper it. Senator Obama was asked about trade agreements the other night, and he looked right into the camera and said he would not condone trade agreements with Columbia because they condone labor leaders getting killed and arrested. That's who we need to lead this country."

Iron Workers General Secretary Mike Fitzpatrick (retired) -

"No one in labor after they know what John McCain is about should cast a vote for him. We look at what we're interested in and what they're interested in. We're interested in putting a roof over our head, food on our table, taking a vacation once in a while and educating our children.

"I have five children and five grandchildren. The hard part is that it's going to be harder on them than it is on me. That's why we have to take this back. This is our country, not the CEOs' country. So let's get out there and get after everybody we know to vote for Barack Obama and labor-friendly candidates."


Don't be distracted on Election Day

By John Sweeney
AFL-CIO President

As banks collapse, as retirement and college savings funds disappear, as working families fear that maybe a full-blown depression is coming, John McCain doesn't want to talk about the economy.

A top McCain campaign strategist told the New York Daily News recently, "If we keep talking about the economic crisis, we're going to lose." A "Republican operative" echoed the sentiment, telling The Washington Post, "There's no question that we have to change the subject here."

John McCain doesn't want to talk about the economy because he helped create the mess we're in - the mess our children will inherit. Voting with President Bush's devastating policies 90 percent of the time, preaching deregulation and free-market fundamentalism, supporting the unfair trade deals that have sent our jobs overseas, opposing unions that enable working people to bargain for a better life - McCain already has left enough of his stamp on the U.S. economy.

To change the subject, his campaign has resorted to dirty tactics based on spreading distortions about his opponent, Barack Obama. That's what you do when your campaign is bankrupt of ideas and devoid of integrity. Sling garbage and point in the other direction. It has worked for McCain's party in previous elections - think about Willie Horton and Swiftboat Veterans. Falsehoods and scare tactics.

Working families are scared all right, but not by the McCain-Palin desperation tactics. We've lost 760,000 jobs so far this year; last month alone, 300,000 of us lost our homes to foreclosure; and too many working families can't afford gas, rising food prices or health care.

Now that's scary.

Working families must not be frightened into voting for four more years of Bush-McCain attacks on working families. Lies and distortions won't push us to vote for a candidate who has more empathy for Wall Street than for Main Street. Falsehoods and mudslinging won't convince us to vote for a candidate who wants to tax our health care benefits and shove more people into the heartless private insurance market. We're not going to be fooled or scared into supporting a candidate who wants more financial deregulation, more job-killing trade deals and more power for corporations to deny workers their free choice to form unions and bargain.

There are just a few days left until the most important election of our lives. Every one of us who advocates for working families has a heavy responsibility right now: Talk to people about Barack Obama's plans to rescue our economy and about what the McCain-Palin campaign is doing instead of helping working families. Volunteer to phone bank, canvass neighborhoods, pass out fliers and bend the ears of your family members, friends and co-workers.

Don't let anyone you know be distracted from what matters or be fooled into casting the wrong vote.



News Briefs

The first U.S. construction outlook for 2009 has been released - and it's not good.
McGraw-Hill Construction reported on Oct. 23 that U.S. construction starts are expected to decline 7 percent to $515 billion. That follows a 12 percent decline predicted for 2008.

"The speed and scope of the events in September and October were startling," said Robert A. Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction, at their Outlook 2009 Executive Conference. "Tighter lending standards are a major constraint for the construction industry. For single-family housing, declines are continuing and showing no sign of an upturn. "Home prices are continuing to drop - a 20% drop so far this year - and we expect another 10% decline through the first half of 2009. Then, things should level off."

The faltering national economy showed up in construction employment numbers in September - 35,000 jobs were lost in the building trades. Unemployment in construction was up to 9.9 percent, compared to the overall national jobless rate of 6.1 percent, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Associated General Contractors of America Chief Economist Ken Simonson said the numbers could get "even uglier" because the financial fallout didn't start until mid-September. We quoted him last issue as saying: "The 2009 construction employment and spending outlook will be very bleak unless credit markets revive promptly."

Consumers delays new Karn plant work
Speaking before a meeting this month sponsored by the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, George C. Hass, executive director of new generation at Consumers Energy, said groundbreaking for its new $2.3 billion coal fired power plant has slipped from late next year to the spring of 2010.

Despite the delay, he added, his company wants the facility to be operational by 2010.

The 800-megawatt facility is planned as an addition to the utility's Karn-Weadock complex in Bay County's Hampton Twp.. The plant is needed to help Consumers to accommodate the state's growing demand for electricity, which is increasing by an average rate of 1% per year.

For the existing Karn-Weadock facilities Consumers recently hired WorleyParsons, Reading, Pennsylvania, to provide construction management services for the installation of $330 million in new pollution control technology. That project is to commence in late 2010 and be completed by 2014. Originally ground for it was to be broken this year.

Hass also told the group Consumers wants to develop about 500 megwatts of wind turbine generated electricity over the next ten years, mostly using sites in Tuscola County. Delaying work, however, have been issues with inadequate electrical transmission lines and interference with airport flying zones. (From Michigan Construction


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