Building the Gateway Pacific Terminal project is not a choice between the environment and jobs. Nothing could be further from the truth. We believe SSA Marines's engineering and design team is creating the most environmentally protective, state-of-the-art, shipping terminal design to be constructed in the world. With that will come increased environmental protection, hundreds of family-wage jobs with benefits, and an enormous economic stimulus to our local community. This is why the labor community supports this project!
One of our union principal purposes is to protect the health and welfare of our workers, both on the job and in our communities. Our unions take a back seat to no one when it comes to advocating for a clean and healthy environment.
The Gateway Pacific Terminal is of extraordinary importance to our local construction workers. We have not had an opportunity to build a construction project of this magnitude in decades. With long-term unemployment within the construction industry, in many cases exceeding 30 percent, no other industry has been hit harder. We have a skilled workforce, ready, able and willing to go to work! This is an opportunity that we should embrace, now.
During construction, the Gateway Pacific Terminal expects to create more than 4,400 jobs and $92 million in tax revenues. Once the terminal is running at full capacity, it expects to sustain 1,250 jobs and $11 million in annual state and local tax revenues on an ongoing basis, making it one of the largest taxpayers in Whatcom County. The direct permanent jobs created by this project will be local, high-wage jobs, paying upwards of $90,000 a year, which is more than twice the current average annual wage in Whatcom County. The majority of these earnings go right back into our local economy, supporting our community.
Local workers and families have suffered for too long. Whatcom County has a poverty rate that exceeds state and national averages and wage rates that dip below the state and nation, yet our families face a very high cost of living. Our community deserves family-wage jobs that give workers the ability to buy a home, provide health care for their families and earn a decent retirement. Gateway Pacific Terminal will provide hundreds of those jobs.
Brad Owens of Bellingham is president of the Northwest Washington Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO. Mark Lowry of Ferndale is president of the Northwest Washington Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO.