By Jim Snell, Business Manager
Steamfitters Local 420

It’s no secret: Our national economy is battered and bruised, and any widespread recovery may still be slow to take hold. Yet, even during Labor Day amid a pandemic, many of Pennsylvania’s skilled workers have something to be thankful for and celebrate.

First and foremost, we’ve mostly been able to stay on the job during this healthcare crisis. Pipeline and utility work, including critical construction and maintenance, are essential for the public well-being, meaning our men and women were in the field doing what they were trained to do on projects like the Mariner East pipeline network and the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex.

And we have been part of the national response to this pandemic. What many don’t realize is that pipelines like Mariner East, for example, not only deliver products that are essential components to transportation fuels and heating fuels, but also byproducts that provide the feedstock to manufacture medical supplies and personal protective equipment.

So these projects aren’t simply critical to our economy overall and the energy sector specifically; they touch every aspect of our modern life. All of the men and women at Steamfitters Local 420 are proud of their contribution to this national effort — and grateful for the opportunity to be able to show off so successfully their high level of training, skills and expertise under the most trying circumstances.

Of course, no one needed a pandemic to be reminded about just how important energy assets like Mariner East and the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex are to our region.

In April 2019, Energy Transfer and the Philadelphia Building Trades, which includes the Steamfitters Local 420, announced a Project Labor Agreement to cover all on-site growth construction projects totaling an estimated at more than $200 million. As many as 1,200 skilled labor tradesmen are expected to be employed as part of the labor agreement.

What has happened at Marcus Hook over the last few years, and what’s happening at Marcus Hook today, is truly transformational — and none of it would have been possible without the Mariner East pipeline network. In 2018, an independent report found that investments in the Mariner East pipelines and related assets total $9.1 billion in economic activity, making it the largest infrastructure investment project in Pennsylvania.

As work continues, it has become pretty clear: These projects are not just pipelines and processing facilities; they are a lifeline to family-supporting jobs for our members. And on this Labor Day, that’s something we can all be thankful for and celebrate.