Hundreds of union workers and their supporters rallied outside the Superior government center before last week’s city council meeting in support of the Nemadji Trail Energy Center, or NTEC.
The rally featured not only union leaders but also members of the business community as well.
“The mayor is saying he’s speaking for citizens — well, these are the citizens,” said Dan Olson, business manager and secretary/treasurer for Laborers Local 1091, while gesturing at the crowd.
Kent Miller, president and business manager of Wisconsin Laborers’ District Council, said the rally wasn’t just for the project itself, but for the livelihoods of families and the community. “We’re here at the city council meeting to have our say,” Miller said.
“I’m not part of a union, but I’m proud to stand with them,” said Taylor Pedersen, president and CEO of the Superior Chamber of Commerce. “I’m here to support the NTEC project. It’s good for Labor, good for the community and good for business.”
Kirk Ilenda, vice president of business development at Lakehead Constructors, touted the company’s 500-strong union workforce and said that as a resident, he believes the community needs this natural gas plant.
The rally also featured the declaration of candidacy.
Weston Morris, a member of IBEW 242 and resident of the First District in Superior, announced his write-in candidacy for that seat in the spring municipal elections. “If elected, I plan to serve with honor and pride,” he said. “I will work hard to grow our diverse economy and will be an independent decision maker.”
Morris will be challenging Nick Ledin, who is currently serving as city council president. Ledin has spoken out against the project.
NTEC is a $700 million project expected to provide $1 million a year to the City of Superior and Douglas County. It’s projected to provide 350 union construction jobs and at least 20 full-time positions once operational.
Last month, the Superior Federation of Labor withdrew its previous endorsements of Superior Mayor Jim Paine and councilors Jenny Van Sickle and Ludwig for their stances against the project.