Micron chip plant tops list of new projects for Local 30
Insulators International Staff — Sat, Jul 15, 2023 @ 12:07 PM
Members of Local 30 Syracuse are preparing for a significant influx of new work, as the Local’s jurisdiction will be home to several large upcoming projects.
Leading the list is a $100 billion megaproject to build a microchip plant. A megaproject is defined as any single private construction project where the cost exceeds $1 billion.
For at least the next 20 years, Micron Technology, Inc., a U.S.-based memory manufacturer, will construct a new mega fab in Clay, N.Y., under a Project Labor Agreement.
The site could eventually include four 600,000-square-foot cleanrooms, creating a total of 2.4 million square feet of cleanroom space. That is roughly the size of 40 U.S. football fields. The new campus will be located in a 1,200-acre industrial park.
When the project is complete, the plant will produce nearly 4 billion chips a year, according to Sanjay Mehrotra, Micron CEO.
Site preparation work will begin this year, with construction starting in 2024. Production output will ramp up in the latter half of the decade, gradually increasing in line with industry demand trends.
“Micron’s $100 billion investment in Upstate New York will fundamentally transform the region into a global hub for manufacturing and bring tens of thousands of good-paying high-tech and construction jobs to Central New York,” said U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “This project is a dramatic turning point for a region that has faced decades of lost manufacturing jobs, and… will put Upstate New York on the map in a way we haven’t seen in generations.”
According to Micron’s website, the new facility will aim to use 100 percent renewable electricity. Micron plans to use green infrastructure and sustainable building attributes to attain LEED Gold status. The new facility’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) will be mitigated and controlled using state-of-the-art technology.
The mega project will increase the domestic supply of leading-edge memory chips and create nearly 50,000 jobs, including about 9,000 Micron jobs. This will include work for Local 30 members.
“This project will create a lot of good hours, a lot of good jobs for our members,” said New York/New England States International Vice President James R. Lister.
The exact number of Insulators needed is not known at this time as site work is just getting underway, but Local 30 Business Manager Kenneth Williams said he expects the total to be in the hundreds–perhaps four times as many Insulators as his Local currently has as active members.
“We’ve never had to man something that big before,” he said.
As such, Williams is already talking with other Locals that have dealt with megaprojects to better understand what might be in store for Local 30. He also wants to learn how the Local can best prepare for the upcoming work.
To man the project, Local 30 plans to recruit new members locally, including targeting members of the underserved communities within the jurisdiction.
“We need to offer them a helping hand,” Lister said. “We want our workforce to represent the communities in which we work.”
Both Williams and Lister feel the current construction climate also makes this an ideal time to organize the nonunion sector.
“You can’t organize until you have the jobs, and right now, we have the jobs,” Lister said. “This is a great time for the non-union to jump sides and make money. We want them to make good money, earn great benefits and be union members.”
Additionally, there is a need for larger apprenticeship classes, and Williams is using the Micron project as a selling tool.
“Some apprentices could spend their entire careers working at Micron,” he said.
Williams feels the Local is off to a good start recruiting mechanics and organizing the non-union sector. Over the last five years, membership has nearly doubled, he said, adding that they have also added new signatory contractors.
Future work for the building trades
The work to grow the Local is just starting as future work is beginning to pile up.
Besides Micron, Williams said his members will also work on a new hydrogen plant, assorted school projects (some are in progress), an aquarium and sewage treatment plants.
Local 30 members and some travelers recently finished work on the $1.3 billion, 480,000-square-foot Wolfspeed Silicon Carbide fabrication facility in Marcy, N.Y., which over the course of the two-year project, created almost 30 jobs.
Members also wrapped up work at the Mohawk Valley Health System’s new Wynn Hospital, a nine-story, 703,000-square-foot facility located on a 25-acre parcel in Utica, N.Y.
This was in addition to ongoing work at Syracuse University and an outage at the Nine Mile Point Nuclear Generating Station in Oswego, N.Y.
For Williams, the Micron project poses more than a manpower challenge.
The Local currently rents space from another Local Union that also is poised for huge growth. As a result, Williams is concerned Local 30 may soon have to look for another building.