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Labor Groups Change Sides, Support Kemper Power Plant

By Daniel Cherry | Published 11 Dec 2012 06:14pm | comments
Some Mississippi labor groups are now giving their support to a 2 point 8 billion dollar power plant under construction in Kemper County. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports, the groups' support comes after the company agreed to hire Mississippi union workers.
An agreement between Mississippi Power's parent company and Mississippi labor leaders means about 1,000 union members will be getting jobs. Until recently, labor groups had opposed the Kemper County project because Southern Company contractors wouldn't hire union members. Robert Shaffer is President of the Mississippi AFL-CIO, a labor group.
"The Mississippi AFL-CIO has always been for getting union jobs. Our position has never changed and it will never change. And I don't see how anyone could twist it into saying anything else."
The 2.8 billion dollar project currently employs about 26 hundred workers. In their change of stance, labor leaders also called on the Sierra Club, their former ally in the fight against the Kemper County plant, to drop their opposition of the project. David Newell, President of the Central Mississippi Building and Construction Trade Council is asking the Club to consider the economic benefits.
"They do some good things, and I'm not knocking the Sierra Club as a whole. I'm just asking they change their position on this job because it will mean so much for the economic development for the state of Mississippi."
However, Louie Miller, President of the Mississippi Sierra Club, says he's seen this before.
"They were against it, before they were for it, before they were against it, before they were for it. So it's kind of hard to keep track of where they are from day to day. They've been promised jobs in the past by Mississippi Power, and those did not materialize. And I suspect the same thing is going to happen with this."
Miller says he'll continue his opposition, saying the plant is over budget, and will cost Mississippi Power ratepayers millions of dollars. Daniel Cherry...MPB News.




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