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Out-of-state workers called ‘bogus issue’

Marc Kovac Dix Communications Published: January 2, 2013 4:02 PM
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COLUMBUS Democrats in the Ohio House unsuccessfully attempted this week to force oil and gas companies to hire larger percentages of Ohioans in the states growing production fields.

Rep. Bob Hagan, a Democrat from Youngstown, offered an amendment Tuesday on legislation related to professional employee organizations that would have required more than half of oilfield employees to be Ohioans.

The amendment failed, but Hagan and other House Democrats renewed their calls for comparable law changes Wednesday, days after Gov. John Kasich voiced his concern that energy companies were bringing out-of-state workers into Ohio.

We have noticed an unbelievable amount of people coming in from Texas and Oklahoma and other states ... roughnecks that have been doing it for a long time ... , Hagan said. They stake their claim, do the drilling and then they take off. Ohioans are left with a promise of jobs that are not kept. Its very disturbing.

Rep. Mike Foley, a Democrat from the Cleveland area, added, Were just going to continue making a big deal about this today and tomorrow, as loudly as possible, until something happens. I dont trust the oil and gas industry. Its not in their self interest right now to hire Ohioans because theyve got all of these trained people from other states. But if theyre going to be taking our oil and gas out of the state of Ohio... they need to use some Ohio employees to do that.

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Hagan, Foley and other House Democrats want oil and gas companies to ensure at least 60 percent of their employees are Ohioans.

But Tom Stewart, executive vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, called the out-of-state worker concerns a bogus issue, noting the economic impact fracking-related activities already are having in Carroll County and other areas.

The excitement of this play is rippling through Ohio, and we simply need to make it happen, he said. I talked to a member of mine this morning whos been in business in the state of Ohio for over 60 years, a small business, who has grown his business over 60 percent.

He added, We have to think about the overall expanse and the economic multiplier of how this oil and gas activity and the reserves and the assets that were going to build in this state, how that ripples through the economy.

Stewart said oil and gas production in shale deposits in eastern Ohio is in its infancy, and its likely an increasing percentage of Ohioans will end up working on rigs as they gain the skills needed to do so.

The Ohio shale play is one of the largest job creators to come into the state of Ohio in many, many years, he said.

But Hagan countered that oil and gas companies should be forced to hire a greater percentage of Ohioans, helping them to get up to speed on drilling techniques and ensuring residents benefit economically from the expanding industry.

We understand its a training process, we understand that theres a learning process in the drilling, Hagan said. We want the gas and oil industry to justify through affidavits that theyre going to hire people from Ohio. I dont think thats asking too much.


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