Drillers who operate in Ohio are put on notice that the state is now watching how many Ohio residents are hired by the industry. Ohio State Senator Lou Gentile, Democrat from Steubenville, had the only amendment from his party to be included in the new drilling law signed by Gov. John Kasich earlier this month.
The amendment, called “Ohio Workers First,” requires the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to track hiring of residents and non-residents and create an annual report showing employment figures for the oil and gas industries in the state. The purpose? To show the “real economic impact” of drilling in the state. And to send a very loud and clear message to the industry.
"It should disclose, make transparent, the number of jobs going to Ohioans actually working in the industry – specifically the number of those in the skilled construction trades who are being employed in this industry," [Gentile] said. "The emphasis is on the number of Ohio contractors who are winning the bids, and who are the Ohio suppliers. We want to have more transparency around all this discussion about jobs and how this will create economic benefit."
Gentile said he supports oil and gas industry efforts in Ohio, but added it is important to know "who is actually getting the work in the industry."
"This is a way for us to send a clear message to the oil and gas industry that we welcome them, but we want them to employ local Ohio skilled craftsmen and local contractors, local suppliers and Ohio-based firms," he added. "By the end of the year, we should have more transparency on that."*
And just how will the Dept. of Job and Family Services go about collecting this information? Gentile says the industry will need to self-report, at least some of it. And Gentile himself says he’s going to wade into the tall weeds and help, to make sure it’s being done right:
Gentile said he will have dialogue with the state DJFS to make sure the reports are done properly and transparently.
"From my understanding they will be working with the industry directly to gather the data – some will be self-reported," he continued. "I’m going to be working with them to do as deep a dive as possible … to see what Ohio workers are being employed, how many Ohio companies are winning contractors."*
No doubt Gentile’s amendment made its way into the final legislation because Kasich wanted it there, plain and simple. How do we know? Recall that when the drilling boom in Ohio was just getting started last year, Kasich said he welcomed the drilling, but didn’t want “foreigners” from PA, WV and TX working at drilling sites (see this MDN story).
As MDN said then and still believes now, it’s hypocritical to want “foreign investment” from Chesapeake and other out-of-state companies, but not want the “foreign” workers they may ship in to get things started while they work to train local residents. Hire local? Sure thing. But it takes a few years to get it all working properly first, and experienced workers from nearby “foreign” states like PA, WV and event TX will be needed to get it all going.
*Wheeling (WV) The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register (Jun 26, 2012) – Gentile Seeks Gas Job Numbers