Union workers picketing Cassadaga wind project sites

OBSERVER Photo by Gregory Bacon Pictured is the Cassadaga Wind Farm’s point of intersection. The wind farm construction has been on hold for the last two weeks because a construction worker, who is from Texas, tested positive for COVID-19.

Members of Ironworkers Union 6 in West Seneca are taking a stand against recent developments regarding the Cassadaga Wind Project.

On Tuesday and Wednesday morning, a group of 30 workers were picketing on sites that include North Hill Road where parts for the towers and blades for the major project were being delivered. The issue, according to union Business Manager Tom Halligan, is the lack of local workers being used in the project by Global Wind Services, which is based in the Netherlands.

“Right now this company coming in … is not willing to sign a contract and they’re just sort of playing games with us,” he said “There are parts that are starting to move.”

Halligan said the protests were in full force around 6 a.m. both days. Besides the lack of work, Halligan’s other concern is where the current out-of-state staff is coming from to assist in the effort. He noted some are coming from locations that state Gov. Andrew Cuomo has deemed as “hot spot states.” Already once this summer, the project was shut down due to a case of COVID-19.

Besides work at the Cassadaga site itself, the union is being shut out of helping distribute pieces for the turbines once they arrive in Buffalo.

“We didn’t unload any of that (cargo). … We’re losing work to people form all over the country and the world. All my guys are local guys … from the Dunkirk-Fredonia area,” Halligan said.

Adding to his disappointment is Cuomo’s stance on renewable energy projects that would bring jobs to area residents. “It’s going with all out of state people,” Halligan said. “We worked on every wind farm … and done probably seven or eight farms in the past 10 years.”

RWE Renewables, which is constructing the Cassadaga Wind Farm, states on its website the project is being built on mostly agricultural and recreational land and will include 37 turbines when completed. The project’s point of interconnection is National Grid’s 115kV lines 161 and 162 near the existing Moon Road substation in the town of Stockton. Once built, the project will generate sufficient clean energy to power over 51,000 homes.


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