(WDBJ7) The controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline will be creating at least 600 new jobs only for people living here in southwest Virginia.
It's all because of a new partnership between the Laborers' International Union of North America and the Virginia Community College System. Specifically, New River, Virginia Western and Danville Community Colleges.
The new deal promises at least one fourth of the 2,400 employees hired for the project are through this program.
It is similar to a partnership surrounding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
John Weaver is the Laborers’ Business Manager for Local 980 in Roanoke.
He explained, “The three main goals are recruitment, education, and training. And of course the main goal in the end is to get the local residents and the local workers to work on the Mountain Valley energy project.”
Weaver said he doesn't expect it will be hard to find six to seven hundred people as the jobs offer, what he calls, a livable wage.
“$20 per hour with $45 a day per diem, and generally they work 60-70 hours a week so anything over 8 hours in a day, they're going to be getting time and a half getting overtime,” Weaver said.
There's also health insurance, which the contracting company is paying what employees would normally pay out of their paychecks.
“It's free healthcare,” Weaver explained. “Once they get 300 hours of employment, they skip a month and they get healthcare, and that's single or family healthcare.”
But with all the controversy surrounding the project and landowners and those concerned with the environment, could people avoid applying?
Weaver answered, “I would hope that no one would set up a picket line in front of Virginia Western and say, 'Hey we don't want you taking this training and go out there and go to work.' We're all about just getting people to work so they can get a livable wage and so they can have healthcare and start a career.”
Weaver said anyone can apply for the job, no background experience is needed, as long as the person is 18 years old.
There's also no deadline, but work is expected to begin in June and continue for about 18 months.