PLCA Activity Levels Remain High

Since its inception, a primary responsibility of the Pipe Line Contractors Association (PLCA) has been to negotiate collective bargaining agreements with the four international unions with pipeline jurisdiction–the Teamsters, United Association, Operating Engineers and Laborers.

As the national agreements with all four unions expire at the end of 2010, much of the past year has been devoted to negotiating new agreements, said Brian Ganske, current PLCA president.

“By the time this article is published,” said Ganske, “we hope we have four new agreements. We have met with the Operators and Laborers twice, the UA once and more meetings are scheduled. Because substantially all of the major mainline pipelines, oil and gas, in the U.S. have been built by our members under the national project labor agreements (NPLA), these negotiations and the administration of the NPLAs have become a major responsibility of the PLCA.”

He added man hours worked over the past five years reflect the importance of the labor agreements.

In 2006, total UA man hours worked were 3,680,716; 2007 – 6,858,880; 2008 – 11,661,978; 2009 – 9,012,119; and 2010 through November – 6,160,771. “In 2008 we nearly reached a record high year of UA man hours worked with 11,661,978, compared to our record in 1968 of 12,049,657.

“Over the past five years,” Ganske said, “we have had record pipeline construction years, but we know our industry is cyclical and we need to be prepared for the ultimate drop in work. In 2009 our members constructed 4,322 miles of pipeline and testing/rehabilitation, and I suspect we will have at least a 25 percent reduction of that figure for 2010. Nevertheless, I expect the next three years to be good for our members.”

Also in 2010, the association secured a project labor agreement (PLA) from each of the pipeline unions for the TransCanada XL Pipeline.

“We worked on these PLAs most of the past year, and I believe the final agreements have been a major accomplishment of the PLCA,” said Ganske. “The project will be approximately 1,200 miles of 36-inch pipeline from the Canadian border to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The PLAs also include 15 pump stations. I am especially proud to have been president of the PLCA during this contract period.”

Ganske expressed pride in PLCA’s scholarship program which continued in 2010.

“This is an outstanding PLCA program,” said Ganske. “Each year the PLCA Scholarship Foundation awards 12 scholarships of $7,500 each. We hope to increase the number of scholarships to 15 in 2011 and perhaps increase each to $10,000. Including this year, our Scholarship Foundation has awarded 86 scholarships to our members’ children, stepchildren and grandchildren.”

Ganske’s term as president ends at the association’s annual convention in February at which time his successor will be elected.

“I am grateful to our members for electing me 2010 PLCA president, and I have enjoyed my term,” said Ganske. “We still have issues to resolve, but our strong leadership will handle them as they come.”

Ganske is executive vice president of the Snelson Companies, Inc. which has grown from a family-owned plumbing business founded in 1946 into one of the country’s premier pipeline contractors serving the natural gas and liquid pipelines, facilities construction and fabrication, and gas distribution markets.

Established in 1948, the Pipe Line Contractors Association,, is headquartered in Dallas. J. Patrick Tielborg is managing director and general counsel.

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