Historic MoU signed to advance U.S. high-speed rail

Posted: 15 March 2023 | | No comments yet

California and Southern Nevada Building Trades have committed to constructing America’s first true high-speed rail system connecting Las Vegas and Southern California, Brightline West.

Brightline West

The State Building and Construction Trades Council of California (SBCTC), Southern Nevada Building Trades Union (SNBTU) and Brightline West, have announced a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to construct America’s first true high-speed rail system connecting Las Vegas and Southern California.

The agreement will ensure that Brightline West will be built with unionised labour in California and Nevada, creating nearly 10,000 construction jobs and career opportunities.

As the California affiliate of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), the SBCTC has 157 affiliated unions from 14 different construction craft unions, 22 local building trades councils, and about 125 affiliated Joint Apprenticeship Training Committees (JATCs) that are responsible for training apprentices and providing journeyman upgrade training throughout the state. In total, SBCTC has nearly 500,000 members including roughly 70,000 apprentices.

Economic studies show that Brightline West will create more than 35,000 jobs including 10,000 construction jobs and nearly 1,000 permanent jobs for operations and maintenance.

Andrew Meredith, President of the SBCTC, said: “The SBCTC is excited to partner with Brightline West and the SNBTU on this historic project bringing high-speed rail and thousands of new construction jobs to Southern California and Southern Nevada. Our members are ready to get to work building this vital transportation project linking California to Las Vegas. It’s important to remember that we have a long history of building California’s most vital and groundbreaking projects. We applaud Brightline West’s commitment to using the highest quality, skilled and trained workforce to build this project on time and under budget. Making that commitment means the women and men building the project are receiving the compensation, benefits, and protections they deserve.”

The SNBTU, an alliance of craft unions for highly skilled and productive construction labour, joins the agreement on behalf of 14 local labour unions across the region. Representing thousands including iron workers, insulators, electrical workers and more, the partnership brings the project one step closer to connecting Las Vegas and Southern California with a green, efficient,  high-speed rail system.

Vince Saavedra, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of SNBTU, said: “This is a momentous day for the workers of Southern Nevada, specifically members of the SNBTU, as we announce our partnership with Brightline West and SBCTC to create our country’s first true high-speed rail system. Our thousands of high-skilled members of our allied unions are standing at the ready to build this rail system. Nevada was built on the backs of our labour union members, and this historic rail project will continue that legacy. This project will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and bring millions of dollars into our economy, and I am proud of the role our unions will play in it.”

Creating jobs

Economic studies show that Brightline West will create more than 35,000 jobs including 10,000 construction jobs and nearly 1,000 permanent jobs for operations and maintenance. The project is expected to generate more than $10 billion in economic impact to California and Nevada. The system is projected to have nearly 1,000 permanent jobs for operations and maintenance.

Mike Reininger, CEO of Brightline Holdings, said: “We continue to build a powerful coalition around Brightline West and our vision for high-speed rail in America. Brightline West will provide unmatched economic benefits and career opportunities for thousands in Nevada and California. This partnership brings us one step closer to putting a shovel in the ground.”

Connecting Las Vegas and Southern California

Brightline West is a 218-mile system connecting Las Vegas and Southern California within the Interstate 15 right-of-way with trains capable of speeds of 200mph. The journey will begin with a station in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. that will offer direct connectivity with California Metrolink. Additional stations will be built in Hesperia and Apple Valley, Calif. and Las Vegas.

Support of union labour

The agreement (on 6 March 2023) follows a recent commitment between Brightline West and the High-Speed Rail Labor Coalition to operate and maintain Brightline West. That coalition is comprised of 13 rail unions representing more than 160,000 freight, regional, commuter and passenger railroad workers in the United States.

Both agreements demonstrate the support of union labour for the development of Brightline West and the company’s commitment to providing the safest possible rail operations and high-quality working conditions for its employees.

The $10 billion investment has widespread economic benefits and equally impressive environmental benefits. The fully electric, emission-free system will be one of the greenest forms of transportation in the U.S., removing three million cars and 400,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.

In case you haven’t already accessed:

Roundtable: U.S. High-Speed Rail Developments