Several of the misinformed posters have alluded to “extortion.” If they were informed, they would be pointing the extortion finger at anti-union contractors who threatened to sue Gaylord if they worked with labor unions. They are the ones that ultimately kicked Gaylord out of town.

We have been part of a citizens committee that planned this project for more than five years, working with community and environmental groups to outline clear goals for what the project should look like. Not everyone understands why labor unions care about the environment. And truthfully, that’s our fault. We haven’t been the best at explaining the paradigm shift we’ve experienced over the past decade. Whereas a lot of unions used to see environmental laws as a barrier to job security, we now understand that building and construction has to be conducted in an environmentally friendly way or we’ll lose jobs in the future. Bad projects today can result in restricted construction in the future.

Plus, our members live here, raise their families here and breathe the air here. Rather than try to fight environmental laws, we’re committed to making them stronger. And we’ve been successful. (By the way, we’re also leading the way in green energy jobs creation, such as solar panels).

As to the other issue raised in some postings, unions are needed today more than ever. Just ask Wal-Mart employees. Our members are the most highly trained and qualified in their fields. When they come on a job site, they know how to do the job on time and under budget, while keeping themselves and their colleagues safe. This kind of job quality matters to responsible, trustworthy builders and contractors. The trustworthy builders and contractors we work with also know that government studies show labor agreements don’t raise costs. But they do improve quality.

Our quality of work is only possible because of our apprentice programs that put the next generation of workers through rigorous training. When these young men and women complete our program, they are set up to succeed in the new economy and provide for their families. This is just one of many contributions we make to the community.

— TOM LEMMON

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