Brothers and Sisters,
Hopefully, by the time you receive this report the work this spring will have sprung. I fully expect that we will shadow our record numbers and possibly could shatter the record of 12 million manhours set back in 1968.
Could the work just dry up and disappear? If you spent your whole career in the pipeline industry, you’ve seen it go from wide open to dead still in a matter of months. It is important that you, as a member of Local 798, understand that almost every piece of fossil fuel infrastructure will be contested going forward into the future. Our opponents have developed new strategies to increase the financial risks of these pipeline projects. Blocking and stalling permits causes a viable concern for banks who finance the work. Bankers do not like risk, they like certainty. However, the strategy of delay is more than just economics. It is an opportunity for these opponents to not only raise “awareness,” but at the same time raise funds to oppose future projects.
This message is very important to all members and applies to those who utilize the Out-of-Work wheel, as well as those who are dispatched or contract hired. The new DOT drug testing laws will impact many of us. I am referring to the addition of testing for semi-synthetic opioids: hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone and oxymorphone. Some of the common brand names for these are OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet, Vicodin, Lortab, Norco, Exalgo and Dilaudid. There may be others that I am unaware of.
The purpose of this message is to let you know the necessary steps that you now must take in order to pursue pipeline work if you are prescribed any of these medications.
If you have any prescriptions containing these semi-synthetic opioids and you attempt to go to work on a pipeline, it is advisable that you talk with your doctor and clarify whether he/she will be able to write a letter saying you are fit for duty. Particularly, a letter specifying that you are able to perform safety sensitive work, such as performing pipeline and fabrication work on the pipeline construction. It also may be beneficial to talk with your prescribing doctor about any and all plans of treatment that can provide reliable pain relief.
Once you are informed that your drug test provided positive results for these opioids, you will have five (5) business days to have your prescribing doctor get in touch with the Medical Review Officer.
If the doctor cannot convince the MRO that you can safely perform your work, the contractor will have the right to terminate you for being unfit for duty.
The drug test result will be changed to list as negative once you have proof of a legal prescription. This will mean that you are not subject to the Rehab steps in the National Pipeline Agreement or DOT.
This law has only been in effect for a month and it is proving to be very difficult to get our members through this process and on the job. There have only been a few members who have satisfied the MRO’s specifications. This is affecting many of our members who are simply trying to work for a living but are dealing with chronic pain. Feel free to contact the Dispatch Office at (918) 610-2761. We will do our best to assist you in this matter.
The Building & Trades work has been very slow this winter. We continue to search for Building & Trades work, but we truly expect that our pipeline work will arrive first and at a greater pace, so be prepared.
As of the date of this writing, the wheel has 1,374 Welders, 203 Journeymen, and 1,851 Helpers.
MORE 798 STORIES
I am writing this report after returning from Florida. These past couple of months have been spent traveling around, meeting and greeting people, and exploring all the job opportunities that are coming up for bid in the South.
I am writing my report in route to the Colorado Water & Energy Conference. The conference will bring together U.S and Canadian senior leaders in Energy Development and Water Infrastructure planning. I am looking forward to sitting at the table with the men and women who plan infrastructure development in Colorado and throughout the West. I will do my best to relay that Local 798 is looking to be a partner in the construction of all pipelines planned for future development.
The 2018 work season has started already, and this year will be another busy one for everyone. The mainline work will again be in the Northeast to get the Marcellus and Utica Shale Natural Gas out of the gas fields to be distributed to American homes and businesses. Natural gas will be the product that keeps our members working for many years to come.
So far, 2018 is starting out like last year. Several projects have gone out for bid in Texas, but our fair contractors have had no success picking up any jobs. Everyone’s saying the same thing: the work is going cheap.