Over the last few years, a number of labor unions have experienced dramatic increases in employment from the development of shale resources in the Marcellus region. According to Jim Kunz, Business Manager for the International Operating Engineers, Local 66, their members are close to full employment lately as a result of the burgeoning shale gas development. Without development in the Marcellus Shale the union would be near 25 percent unemployment.
In addition to almost full employment, Kunz has seen a spike in new members and recently Local 66 doubled their apprenticeship class to about 80. Many new apprentices are leaving their previous career paths to join the trades and build a new life in a higher paying and more satisfying career.
Union officials expect the good fortunes to continue for years to come. Even if the energy industry slows down in the area, there will be continued employment associated with other related industries and infrastructure projects resulting from a burgeoning local tax base.
For now, the local unions are content to grow their membership, train new highly skilled tradesmen and rebuild Pennsylvania’s economy in the process.