Local Unions push for a CBA on $2 billion Columbus airport project

Affiliated Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council members support the use of a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) for the $2 billion expansion project at the John Glenn International Airport. 

On Oct. 24, local leaders and building trades members rallied together to let the Columbus Regional Airport Authority know they support the use of a CBA.

C/COBCTC affiliated union members want the work to be done under a CBA to ensure local dollars go to local workers and workers on the job will earn the area’s Prevailing Wage. 

CBAs also help ensure more minorities and women work on site earning good pay and great benefits. 

“We’re just trying to get this across the line because one, we want the Columbus Regional Airport Authority (CRAA) to do right by the community, but also we want to do it for the community and do right by the airport authority, too, and help them build this project, which is going to be a keystone for economic development as people come in and out of the city,” said C/COBCTC Executive Secretary-Treasurer Dorsey Hager.  

The CRAA announced the project to replace the existing 65-year-old terminal in August with Hensel Phelps working as the project construction manager.

Despite multiple conversations with both the CRAA and Phelps about a CBA, Hager said no progress has been made. 

“Every day that they waste not agreeing to a CBA is a day that they can’t partner with the Columbus Building Trades,” Hager said. “Let’s talk about schedules to talk about contract first-rate participation. Talk about workforce demands, talk about retention and also talk about workforce development programs.” 

Hager also emphasized that without a CBA, out-of-state contractors can be brought in to perform work on the project.

“Obviously, our feeling is if something’s going to be built here in Columbus, in Central Ohio, using local dollars, we want local people to be able to build those projects,” he added. 

The Central Ohio Chapter of the Association of Building Contractors, a non-union contractor group, is urging the CRAA to not sign a CBA. 

A statement was released on the organization’s website urging the CRAA to “resist special interest pressure,” and added that signing a CBA would negatively affect construction opportunities.

The statement included a false claim saying a CBA would artificially increase the cost of the project and that there are not enough union construction workers to perform the work at the airport.

Construction is estimated to begin in late 2024 with completion in late 2028 or early 2029.

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