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Building trades partnership agreement finalized in support of $800 million Vision Northland project

An architect’s rendering shows Essentia Health’s replacement hospital bed tower, clinic space and surgical suites along Fourth Avenue East between East Second Street and Superior Street. The complex will be built above East First Street and a service alley below the Duluth Clinic’s existing First Street Building. It will be connected to the clinic’s First Street Building, Second Street Building and Essentia Health-Duluth, formerly known as Miller-Dwan. Submitted / Essentia Health

Essentia Health, McGough Construction and the Duluth Building & Construction Trades Council today announced that a project labor agreement is now in place for Vision Northland — the historic $800 million investment that represents a transformation of patient care at Essentia’s downtown Duluth campus.

By signing a PLA, Essentia and McGough, its construction contractor, formalized their cooperation and partnership with the building trades. This ensures the project will benefit from high-quality, skilled craftspeople.

The construction of a replacement hospital bed tower, surgical suites and clinic space will begin in November and is expected to provide work for more than 5,600 onsite construction jobs and 3,600 off-site construction-related jobs over the project’s life.

Based on construction spending, the Associated General Contractors of America indicates that projects of this size should provide a gross domestic product to the state of Minnesota of $2.7 billion, with an impact of $880 million to personal earnings over the project’s life.

“This major investment in Essentia’s mission demonstrates our commitment to our patients’ health, our community’s economic vitality and our staff’s work environment,” said Essentia Health Chief Executive Officer David C. Herman, MD. “Vision Northland will ensure our facilities match how medicine is practiced in the 21st century, bringing the highest quality of care to the people and communities we are privileged to serve.”

PLAs are agreements that establish uniform terms and conditions for all construction craft employees, as well as all construction contractors on a specific project and are negotiated before employees are hired for a project. PLAs are particularly useful on large, complex construction projects that require many craft workers and are expected to last a long period of time.

“Entering into this PLA ensures that the project will benefit from the best trained, most experienced and safest workforce available in the marketplace,” said Tim McGough, executive vice president of McGough. “Working closely with the Duluth Building Trades, we will, to the greatest extent possible, utilize local talent to provide the skill and expertise necessary for the project.”

The PLA applies to all craft employees represented by these unions: Asbestos Workers Local 49; Boilermakers Local 647; BAC Local 1 Chapter 3 Duluth & Iron Range; Carpenters Local 361; Cement Masons/Plasterers Local 633; Elevator Constructors Local 9; IBEW Local 242; Iron Workers Local 512; Laborers Local 1091; Millwrights & Machinery Erectors Local 1348; Operating Engineers Local 49; Painters & Allied Trades Local 106; Plumbers & Fitters Local 11; Roofers Local 96; Sheet Metal Workers Local 10; Sprinklers Fitters Local 669 and Teamsters Local 346.

“This agreement provides a framework for labor and management cooperation and stability, and provides a steady, skilled workforce for a project of this magnitude,” said Craig Olson, President of the Duluth Building Construction Trades Council.

“It goes without saying that this project wouldn’t get off the ground without the more than 2 million skilled man-hours being provided by the Building Trades,” McGough said. “We very much look forward to continuing our partnership with Essentia and the Duluth Building Trades and to working with an outstanding workforce to construct this iconic project.”