Kinder-Morgan weighs in on union protest in Marion County

COLUMBIA, MS (WDAM) - In Columbia, various pipeline unions have spent over a week picketing the choice of non-union Loutex Construction, the company that won a contract to build a pipeline in Marion County.

Kinder-Morgan Representative, Allen Fore says, "We encounter protestors from time to time and that's fine. People certainly have a right to object to whatever issues they might have."

After a solid week of protesting the pipeline unions show no signs of just going away. Local 798 Welders Union representative Darrell Turner says,  "A non-union worker deserves healthcare and a safe working environment as much as I do.  We fight for it and we believe in it."

Fore says hiring Loutex was more about the competitive bidding process and not the designation of union or non-union. "Contractors bid on projects. We look at the contractor will we believe is the most efficiently and effectively and safely construct this pipeline. And Loutex was selected on that basis and they're doing a good job."

Turner says it isn't so much a problem with how Kinder-Morgan does business. "We do a lot of work for Kinder-Morgan throughout the United States an incidentally my Local 798, we own a rather large share of Kinder-Morgan stock."

Protesters say their fight is with contractors who can underbid projects due to not paying benefits to their workers.  But one can't deny the economic boost, union or non-union. Fore says, "The construction workers, the taxes, the patronizing of local businesses. You're talking about millions of dollars in economic impact."

However, the unions say, "We're not in a hurry to leave."

And as long as the workers and the unions are in town, it's a win, win for Marion County.

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