Laborers Union Recruits, Trains Pipeline Workers

Pipeline worker in Oklahoma. Photo credit: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

I’ve been critical of labor unions on many occasions, but I’m not anti-union out of general principle. Unions can play a positive role in the economy. As an example, look at the partnership between the Laborers’ International Union of North American (LIUNA) and the Virginia Community College System.

LIUNA and VCCS have signed a memorandum of understanding to recruit and train Virginians to work on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Pipeline workers will train at six Virginia community colleges near the pipeline route: Dabney S. Lancaster, Blue Ridge, Piedmont, Southside Virginia, Paul D. Camp, and Tidewater. In partnership, LIUNA and the colleges will recruit, screen, and train prospective workers, according to a joint press release issued last week.

Training will provide skills necessary for a range of pipeline work, including installing environmental control devices, clearing ground, coating and installing pipe, and restoring the right of way.

“Through our partnership with Virginia’s community colleges, we intend to hire well over half of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline workforce from those who live in nearby communities,” said Dennis Martire, vice president and regional manager of LIUNA Mid-Atlantic.

“This partnership reinforces LIUNA’s commitment to recruit and train as many Virginia residents as possible to work on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This project is going to provide middle class wages and family health benefits to hundreds of our members across Virginia,” Martire added.

Now, I recognize that there are many outstanding issues associated with the pipeline construction — in particular, whether pipeline trenches can be dug without causing significant damage to fragile mountain terrain and water supplies. That issue will not be answered definitively until the project is complete and we can observe, not speculate, how well the job is done.

But everyone should agree about one thing: If the pipeline is to be constructed, which it is 99% certain to be despite last-ditch legal challenges, we want to make sure that the pipeline workers are well trained in their crafts and well versed in the construction plans to minimize environmental harm.

A construction company employing non-union labor would be hard-pressed to pull off the feat of screening, hiring and training thousands of construction workers in remote communities across the state. Fulfilling that critical hiring and training function is a significant value-add. Good for LIUNA.

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36 responses to “Laborers Union Recruits, Trains Pipeline Workers

  1. Gee, Jim, and yet non-union firms hire and train large numbers of workers all the time, sometimes in conjunction with VCCS or other entities, and sometimes they train entirely in house. The partnership you describe is commendable, but hardly a unique benefit of organized labor.

  2. Interestingly, I took a break from work yesterday and went on a walk to the Post Office. A high-end condo building is being built in the McLean downtown area. Most of the license plates on the streets where the construction workers park are from Maryland. I don’t know whether this is a union job or not, but a lot of Virginia money is paying Maryland workers. I suspect a significant factor is NoVA schools aren’t providing sufficient vocational education for those students who see a career path outside college. How many well paid jobs go to workers form across the Potomac?

    • So, as Andrew informed me this morning, Maryland is getting closer yet to building the world’s fastest bullet train that will get people back and forth between DC and Baltimore in 15 minutes and so that people arriving by air at Baltimore Washington Airport (BWI) can get to DC in 8 minutes from that Maryland Airport and also to Baltimore in 5 minutes. This of course will eat Dulles alive.

      Also Maryland has put on high priority the building of a new American Legion Bridge, presumably now to bring ever more highly skilled Marylanders into Northern Virginia to put the place back together as best they can, and dress up whatever chances the region might have to snag Amazon.

      But what is going on in Northern Virginia otherwise? That is the big question.

  3. This is an absolute scandal. Imagine, the state of Virginia cannot find a way to teach these workers the skills they need to build a pipeline in Virginia. Meanwhile, many Virginia kids sit in community college and college classrooms day after day for years learning absolutely nothing.

    Plus, beware of labor unions. If you want to know where much of the dysfunction and wastage comes from with regard to the DC Metro, and many related projects, look no further than the unions.

  4. We must be shocked at the waste of Virginia’s fine educational facilities on the children in all those hardworking Hispanic laborer households. Why, they might not even be documented! Let them find a place across the river to live where the schools are bilingual and highly rated and the social services and health care are pretty good and the cost of it all is someone else’s tax problem. And — guess what — they do. The American Legion bridge is jammed southbound in the morning, northbound in the evening, every day.

    • So are you advocating that we enforce all the federal and state laws, except those related to immigration? Employers are supposed to follow the Wage & Hour rules, OSHA rules, non-discrimination rules, but can close their eyes to the laws that require a person to be a citizen or have a green card to work in the United States.

      I support giving relief to the DACA people and, if we can control our borders and eliminate the current version of chain immigration, expanding that relief to people who have lived here illegally for say 10 years and stayed out of trouble and also pay all back-taxes and appropriate fees. We can allow many of these otherwise good people to stay. But why do I have to respect the property rights of a business that refuses to follow immigration laws?

      Congress could fix a lot of the problems simply by requiring the use of E-Verify for all employees, limiting the tax deduction for compensation for any employee or contractor for whom there is no evidence E-Verify was used to 50% of the cost and limit to 75% the costs for compensation paid to anyone who was hired after E-Verify demonstrates they are not eligible to work in the United States. Either that or native born and naturalized citizens should be able to pick and chose which federal laws they want to obey. For example, no one should be prosecuted for stealing construction supplies and equipment from a company that doesn’t use E-Verify. No civil suits either.

      Frankly, I’m sick of politicians on both sides of the aisle who refuse to address illegal immigration.

  5. A decade ago I spent several days on a campus of a major community college, one of the largest in the nation. I was appalled. Walking into the largest building there, I was confronted by a police station similar to those found in neighborhoods in Washington DC. If there was vibrant learning happening in that building or otherwise on that campus, it was hard to discern. Instead I felt that I had entered into separate reality, one that was detached from the world I had known in college or any school I had attended. It was as if the place called a community college that I had just entered was inhabited by a community of young sleepwalkers amid heavy police presence.

    One of the professors there, himself a great teacher who had taught in several of the top universities in the nation and a personal friend of mine, confirmed my impressions. I shall never forget his words:

    “I am trying to teach what a very substantial majority of the kids in my classroom cannot learn. It is terribly frustrating and sad.”

    We must return many of our lost schools to the reality of the world the students live in. We cannot afford the status quo. Its ongoing wastage of young peoples’ time, their money, lives, and futures threaten the futures of us all. The damage reeked in those hallways and classrooms I visited will last for lifetimes.

    Now yet again the reality in this nation is changing rapidly. Old attitudes and limitations earlier built in our minds are now being erased. We need now to grab a far better and more hopeful future. This includes schools where our kids are really taught the skills, attitudes, and ethics they need to succeed the world they will now inhabit, a world where most everyone will have a full chance to succeed and prosper through meaningful and real work.

  6. It must be remembered that a job on the pipeline will last for just 8-10 months, according to the pipeline developers. I hope any learned skills can be transferred to the types of jobs that can offer long-term employment.

    I would urge LIUNA to train people for the types of skills needed to reduce energy use in buildings, such as plumbing, pipefitting and ductwork for advanced HVAC systems, weatherization applications, etc. These jobs could offer life-time employment, not just a few months on a project that will add to everyone’s energy costs.

    • That’s important point, Tom.

      I also suggest that many more, likely most all, of Virginia’s non selective post high school institutions of learning should offer similar skill learning opportunities in a whole host of trades and skills. And they should offer fully complete and stand alone degrees in those courses without the encumbrance of other extraneous courses that students do not need, and far too often, cannot benefit from, but that schools unfairly now require for a degree only to make extra money for themselves.

      Thus many four year colleges should be required to offer two year degrees. This is for the simple and obvious reason that two years is all the education that the student needs to acquire these skill and succeed in deploying them successfully. The rest of the courses imposed today by many schools wastes the students time and money, often burdening him or her with unnecessary debt, unnecessarily enriching the institution at the students’ expense.

  7. A two-year “associates” degree from UVA.. Great Googly Moogly!!

  8. so why are taxpayers paying to train workers for a temporary job for a private sector company?

  9. Larry –

    Before you comment on other people’s comments, whether they be Tom’s or mine, or anyone else’s, you should read and understand the comments you are commenting on. If you do that, then you will not accuse others of saying things they plainly did not say, nor will you ask questions or make assertions that have no relevance whatsoever to what you are commenting on of others, all as just happened in both of your comments immediately above.

  10. RE: ” Thus many four year colleges should be required to offer two year degrees. This is for the simple and obvious reason that two years is all the education that the student needs to acquire these skill and succeed in deploying them successfully.”

    Great Googly Moogly!! we want UVA to offer 2 year degrees?

    re: ” “Through our partnership with Virginia’s community colleges, we intend to hire well over half of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline workforce from those who live in nearby communities,” said Dennis Martire, vice president and regional manager of LIUNA Mid-Atlantic.”

    why are taxpayers paying to provide training to temporary workers of a for-profit company?

    any better? did I not understand?

    re: ”
    I would urge LIUNA to train people for the types of skills needed to reduce energy use in buildings, such as plumbing, pipefitting and ductwork for advanced HVAC systems, weatherization applications, etc. These jobs could offer life-time employment, not just a few months on a project that will add to everyone’s energy costs.”

    100% Agree.. train people for their own benefit for the future – not just to provide a temporary needed resource to a company. The education should be for the long term benefit of the student -not the company.

    Oh and Reed… have you READ some of your own multi-paragraph tomes for content? Have to admit.. some of them
    are dang hard to stay with… 😉

  11. Read the comments again.

  12. I have guy. you seem to think you’re the guy to determine these things.

    Sorry – you’re not. You make your comments and I put up with them.

    the reverse is true.

    get it?

    we don’t always agree… and I don’t always understand what exactly your points are… I’m sure the reverse is true.

    but you are not the “decider” of what is right or wrong except
    for yourself. Kindly remember others have “free speech” also even if it’s not your cup of tea.

    now go sit down for awhile.. and ponder or make a point.

  13. Larry –

    What you have alleged I said is false, and plainly so if you would simply read properly what I write. Either you cannot read, or you refuse to read, or you willfully mistake what other people say, and refuse to admit your misrepresentation. I do not know which is the case. But I do know that you do it again and again to most everyone on this blog, and that you typically refuse to correct your behavior despite being confronted with it time again and again by others whose statements similarly have been misrepresented by you. This reflects very poorly on you. Particularly your refusal to moderate your behavior. And to instead accuse and/or attempt to insult others who call you it.

    • Reed:l did you say this:

      ” Thus many four year colleges should be required to offer two year degrees. ”
      what I did get was your advocacy for the words above.

      if I misinterpreted then come back and explain but my comment was mostly tongue-in-cheek anyhow.. not at all intended as an insult or to “accuse” you other anything. Where in the world do you get that? Are you drinking or something?

      Reed – you are not the arbiter of others behavior.

      If I comment on someone else’s comment and I got it wrong – they will come back and correct – on the point – and if I have perceived to insult , I will gladly apologize.. and have..

      but you are not the arbiter of others “behavior” here.. you tried that before and it does reveal your own instincts. You apparently have a need to control others.. and then if they don’t “behave” you can’t control yourself and end up with a dialogue like this.

      Do you plan to call for another vote on ousting from the blog ? 🙂

  14. Tom says:

    “It must be remembered that a job on the pipeline will last for just 8-10 months, according to the pipeline developers. I hope any learned skills can be transferred to the types of jobs that can offer long-term employment. …”

    I reply:

    “That’s important point, Tom.

    I also suggest that many more, likely most all, of Virginia’s non selective post high school institutions of learning should offer similar skill learning opportunities in a whole host of trades and skills. And they should offer fully complete and stand alone degrees in those courses without the encumbrance of other extraneous courses that students do not need, and far too often, cannot benefit from, but that schools unfairly now require for a degree only to make extra money for themselves.

    Thus many four year colleges should be required to offer two year degrees. This is for the simple and obvious reason that two years is all the education that the student needs to acquire these skill and succeed in deploying them successfully. The rest of the courses imposed today by many schools wastes the students time and money, often burdening him or her with unnecessary debt, unnecessarily enriching the institution at the students’ expense.”

    Words, sentences and paragraphs are read together for comprehension. Each one counts cumulatively. Every writer deserves NOT to be misrepresented in what he or she says. And has the right and duty to point out misrepresentations in their work.”

  15. Tom says:

    “It must be remembered that a job on the pipeline will last for just 8-10 months, according to the pipeline developers. I hope any learned skills can be transferred to the types of jobs that can offer long-term employment. …”

    Reed Replies: ” I also suggest that many more, likely most all, of Virginia’s non selective post high school institutions of learning should offer similar skill learning opportunities in a whole host of trades and skills. And they should offer fully complete and stand alone degrees in those courses without the encumbrance of other extraneous courses that students do not need, and far too often, cannot benefit from, but that schools unfairly now require for a degree only to make extra money for themselves.

    Thus many four year colleges should be required to offer two year degrees. This is for the simple and obvious reason that two years is all the education that the student needs to acquire these skill and succeed in deploying them successfully. ”

    offering MY views:

    Holy Moly. We ALREADY have BOTH- High School Tech and Career curricula as well as Community Colleges..

    Why would we want to get UVA and other 4year institutions into 2 year degrees, especially for skills that are not normally taught in 4-yr colleges to start with?

    At ANY RATE – schools are funded from taxpayers to provide people with the skills they need to make a living on a sustainable basis.

    That’s WHY it’s taxpayer funded.

    The idea that we’d take taxpayer-funded education resources to give to private sector companies for training their workforce – specific to the exact needs of the company which may well not be a generalized enough skill to
    be “portable” to the worker – THAT – COMBINED with the idea that the job itself is temporary – calls into question IN MY MIND – if that really is an
    appropriate use of tax dollars rather than a legitimate cost of business the business should treat as an expense to the business.

    There are obviously some middle grounds especially in regions where jobs are scarce.. but the temporary nature of the work and the prospects of longer term work later on .. is, in my mind, problematic as a proper expenditure of taxpayer funds.

    Finally, back to the idea of 4 yr institutions offering completely different criteria 2 year degrees.. in a time when 4yr institutions are being accused of not controlling costs and not offering affordable tuition.. to have them expand more into other areas – already covered by other institutions – high schools and community colleges just seems wrong-headed to me.

    Somewhere in the middle of all of this – this blog “sort of” recognizes the traditional but now often unappreciated functions of Unions and that is apprenticeship programs to vett and train people for different areas of work in the economy.. things that might be both specific to a company or industry but also with width and breadth to afford the worker – future work opportunity if he/she ends up moving to a different company or job.

    It was the unions that created skill and knowledge standards for things directly related to the economy itself as it operated – as opposed to an educational institution trying to design a course which .. may or may not be relevant to the existing and future economy. That’s another reason to hire adjuncts..

    Jobs, training, education, all are exceptionally important things both for individuals opportunity and for the economy and in my mind..worth of
    discussion.. wide ranging .. and individual perspectives shared with others.. for more discussion, dialogue and content – as is.. take it or not.. but don’t try others how to “comment”.. or do stupid things like claim insult because someone did not fully understand your point or whatever.. It’s just plain childish.

  16. Reed – it’s a public blog. The express purpose is to get comments from folks.

    ” We have managed, so far, to avoid posting elaborate rules for participating in this blog. We simply urge contributors and commenters to maintain a collegial atmosphere. Direct all the fire and fury you want at another person’s argument, but do not engage in ad hominem attacks. The publisher reserves the right to delete any comments that violate this basic rule. Additionally, blog contributors have the right to delete any comments on their own posts only that they feel detracts from the quality of the dialogue.”

    If this KIND of venue for discussion is not one you like and you want more rules – like who can comment and how they can comment… then you might be happier with a more restrictive environment like private email but you have no right to attack others for their commenting style or even their critique of both the blog post or others comments.

    Public discussion board are where you share your views and those views are open to others commenting .. the whole concept is to test your own ideas in a wider group… and be prepared for your comments to be subjected to critique as well as agreement or in between.

    If I have insulted you personally – you call me on it – and I WILL apologize.

    If you think I made a factual error – ditto…

    but if I state an opinion you do not like – then please don’t attack me personally by claiming I have commented in a way you do not like or am not “behaving” properly.

    I DO comment on others views and ideas.. that’s how a public forum works.

    I fully expect my own shared to be thoroughly chewed on.. I actually do want that.. I want my own views to be “valuated” by others.. that’s how I actually do learn..whether I really am in tune with and/or understand other folks views. That’s not a comfortable thing for some.. I realize that.. but the main rule is to hammer the ideas and do not attack the person.

    I’d be interesting in hearing others views on this… and if others feel I need to
    improve on my style.. I’m open to constructive criticism.

  17. Do not continue to misrepresent my words, Larry.

    • Reed.. if I directly quote you and I respond to that quote.. that’s not an misrepresentation ..

      that’s the way that MOST folks here actually do respond.. they capture the sentence or phrase or paragraph and respond to it as they understood it.

      And if they misunderstood then correct it and make clear the intent of the original comment but don’t attack the person .. and try to prevent the
      person from commenting at all.

  18. “Frankly, I’m sick of politicians on both sides of the aisle who refuse to address illegal immigration.” We completely agree! I’ve raised four children and went through our family’s version of NannyGate and trying to legitimize the lives and finances and immigrant status of the helpless participants. Talk about a bloody mess! And that was over 30 years ago; it’s only got worse.

    No, we must not ignore any law, on principle, or we damage the rule of law. And that’s what’s so frustrating about the immigration controversy. We don’t simply say, “Admit them” or Don’t admit them.” We play games full of official claims: “we’re keeping them out” but “if you need foreign labor just pay this” or ” just claim that (wink, wink)” or “if it’s for that purpose we’ll just look the other way.” We create a huge bureaucracy that’s supposed to screen applicants fairly and objectively, then deliberately cripple it by understaffing and underfunding it and destroying its morale simply to make legal admissions difficult or impossible even under current criteria. E-Verify is the honest, impartial way to enforce the law assuming what you’re enforcing is intended to be honestly enforced.

    “So are you advocating that we enforce all the federal and state laws, except those related to immigration?” Yes! There are so many examples where strict enforcement would trigger an immediate political reaction, yet federal law remains in limbo in Congress because of legacy supporters and inertia. Take federal marijuana-law non-enforcement for example — Sessions is right, in my view, to force the issue. But I was responding to, “How many well paid jobs go to workers from across the Potomac?” More of them live across the river because the Hispanic community as a whole is more warmly received in Montgomery and Frederick than Fairfax and Prince William. Immigration enforcement by local police is certainly a part of that, and that affects the entire Hispanic community around, say, Gaithersburg whether or not the particular worker crossing the river to that McLean construction site has passed E-Verify. As for how well that community is received in the public schools — the question, again, is are we really serious about kicking these kids and their parents out of the Country? Because they are helpless pawns now, traumatized by the whims of militants and bureaucrats, yet in all likelihood they will overcome the obstacles and become future citizens, and our neighbors, and they will not forget what they’ve been through or who inflicted it.

    • Acbar – not to pick a fight, but my original comment about workers with Maryland license plates did not mention Hispanic workers. I saw a number of Caucasian and African American workers going to and from their cars with Maryland plates. There were Hispanic workers too.

      My point was and still is — there is something wrong with the NoVA education system when we see Virginia construction projects employing very significant numbers of Maryland residents. These are well paid positions needed by society. My conclusion, based on a number of observations over the last several years, is there is a problem with vocational education in Virginia.

  19. “Frankly, I’m sick of politicians on both sides of the aisle who refuse to address illegal immigration.”

    We very much do have a “divide” on immigration and I look at Canada who has a guest worker program with strict sanctions against employers who hire illegals and I do wonder why we don’t do that – as opposed to essentially demonizing those who came here illegally…. LIKE selecting out the very few who are criminals – and no greater percentage than citizens.. but we demonize the idea that immigration brings “bad people” to the country – rather than seriously go after the employers who hire illegals AND who ALSO abuse them by treating them unfairly on work and pay by threatening to turn them in if they complain.

    To me.. it’s not politicians – as much as it is – hypocrisy .. if we do want to deal with illegal immigration – we have to do with those who hire them – much more than some stupid “wall”.. there are all kinds of ways to get into this country – physically – that a “wall” just won’t stop. Tunnels, balloons, boats, and 20 ft tall ladder make short work of “walls”…

    how this got to be a central premise of a discussion about a pipeline in Virginia .. beats me.. but it seems to re-occur fairly frequently in a lot of the discussions here..

    I’ll be honest.. I never was that concerned about “illegal” immigration.. I routinely see a lot of “roofers”, landscapers, and workers in nursing homes and other lower echelon jobs.. that I seriously doubt Americans will do .

    And if you take a look at Europe.. that’s also why they allow low-education immigrants into their countries… to use them are lower-tier labor.. and not without some terrible social problems reminiscent of how black folks in this country were used as cheap labor after the civil war..

    but I digress… perhaps badly.. and don’t want to be “mis-behaving”… on this blog these days.

  20. “How this got to be a central premise of a discussion about a pipeline in Virginia .. beats me .. but it seems to re-occur fairly frequently in a lot of the discussions here…” Jim is being mighty silent here, but in my experience it’s more than common that the original “point” of one of his posts gets ignored due to long riffs on tangential but fascinating issues. That’s a problem? This time, we wandered off the ranch with TMT’s comment, “a lot of Virginia money is paying Maryland workers. I suspect a significant factor is NoVA schools aren’t providing sufficient vocational education for those students who see a career path outside college.” So Reed and I rose to the bait: I ran with MD vs VA, and Reed ran with vocational/2-year versus 4-year college. TMT responded to me with illegal immigration, but it took over a day for me to get back on line and respond (yes, I have another life!); now about the rule-of-law, is that any more relevant? But meanwhile, Larry and Tom responded to Reed.

    I happen to think Tom’s is the most important policy question raised by this burst of employment for pipeline construction: it’s short term. So what happens to the worker out in the sticks that gets recruited and trained for this construction job only to be laid off after 8 months — what then? Reed saw the implication of that in how we prepare people like that for jobs generally, and jumped to a critique of Virginia’s (undue?) emphasis on 4-year residential liberal-arts colleges. ”I also suggest that many more, likely most all, of Virginia’s non selective post high school institutions of learning should offer similar skill learning opportunities in a whole host of trades and skills. And they should offer fully complete and stand alone degrees in those courses without the encumbrance of other extraneous courses that students do not need, and far too often, cannot benefit from, but that schools unfairly now require for a degree only to make extra money for themselves.”

    Now Reed, I will defend the importance of a 4-year liberal arts college education, and I also will defend the importance of community colleges which offer courses with a vocational bent, and how for some it’s an utter waste of their money to do more than that. That we need both kinds of higher ed., there is little room for argument in my opinion. But I will argue with you about whether they can be combined within ONE institution devoted BOTH to the 4-year residential college and to two year targeted “learning opportunities in a whole host of trades and skills.” [To which I thought Larry’s comment, “A two-year “associates” degree from UVA.. Great Googly Moogly!!” was a highly appropriate short hand reaction.] And on that, hinges the question whether “The rest of the courses imposed today by many schools wastes the students time and money, often burdening him or her with unnecessary debt, unnecessarily enriching the institution at the students’ expense.” It’s not a waste for some, clearly a waste for others; but how differentiate these two types of student? To be continued, I hope, in a post focused on higher ed goals and means [which Reed promised to write some day], and, as Larry points out, this isn’t, so by that rule TMT and I are the ones misbehaving, for getting us so off the track that Jim laid out.

    • I disagree with your comments on all its counts.

      I think all commenters to Jim’s post followed in its natural flow, or close enough to that natural flow, so as to add perspective to the main point which was that a special ad hoc set of schools had to be created on the spot if skilled manpower were to be found to build and lay this sort of pipeline above and below ground for this particular project, a project not far different from the thousands already built in the country. Thus Jim’s post has now pointed up a host of larger issues which were intelligently raised and dealt with, however briefly, given what this blog format allows on a first impression.

      And so too, as a collateral matter, the post and its follow on commentary served as a starting point for a legitimate larger conversation on a number of related fronts. One of the advantages of this sort of conversation is that it gave the commenters the opportunity to foreshadow larger and related issues that touched Jim’s post and that held the potential to broaden out the particular issue and its circumstance beyond this single pipeline project. For example what Tom so quickly discerned, as did also TMT, pointing up how this one particular pipeline issue is nested systemically within a matrix of shortcomings in our nations infrastructure, whether it be social, industrial, political, and educational systems, as well as attitudes and ideologies at play.

      So a number of commenters here took that opportunity and in all cases rightfully so. This included the opportunity to foreshadow issues that can be renewed and elaborated on as necessary in greater detail when the best time arises, just as numerous other commenters routinely do very competently and quite often on this blog. This is a process, and often a long one when complicated subjects are discussed on our daily stage of explanation, proof, and argument, that by nature of our medium is limited to small bites at the apple. This is hard to do. Particularly when one must learn as the discussion proceeds. And one must have faith that at least a few readers follow along closely enough to gain cumulative learning and knowledge, not to mention memory of posts and comments past. Hopefully it can be done. And surely you have helped lead the way and set a high standard with your long series of comments on a very complicated subject built from years of your experience. Hopefully all of us can get within some reasonable range of your high standards . As for myself on higher education, we will all have to wait and see. But I do have an end game here, a place I hope to arrive, on this very complicated, opaque, and mostly hidden subject of what goes on in today’s higher education. Including why costs are wildly out of control while teaching and learning has plummeted for most students who now pay far too much for very little benefit while their tuition payments subsidizes the bloat and private ambitions of their schools, its administrators, and most all of higher educations external sponsors, particularly the Federal Government and is funding agencies as well as thousand of private grantors and contractors, partners and subcontractors, and politicians who take great unfair advantage of our public institutions of higher learning, most particularly our Public Research Universities, and in so doing abuse most their students, their wealth, their futures, their education or lack thereof, as those who run the system divert their students tuition away from their education and instruction and use those diverted tuition funds to subsidize the private interests of those running and living off of their schools. In that respect the theft is an inside job, pulled off by a power structure than includes many holding positions of power and unfair advantage built on what should be their fiduciary duty to educate, promote and protect their students who they have made their victims instead.

      Finally, as regards your statement:

      [To which I thought Larry’s comment, “A two-year “associates” degree from UVA.. Great Googly Moogly!!” was a highly appropriate short hand reaction.]

      I would agree with you if my language could be read to have proposed such a result which it plainly did not. And which I plainly excluded instead. Thus, reasonable read, Larry’s comment gives the impression that I said or proposed something that I did not. And that indeed I went to some lengths to exclude selective universities from my statement. Larry compounds the damage by his off hand flippant rebuff regarding a statement I did not make or flippantly toss out into the air, but one that I have put quite a bit of work into validating to my satisfaction. There are easy ways to avoid these problems and affronts. Larry should learn to master them.

      • Also, Acbar, one must ask why no comment from you on this comment?:

        LarrytheG | February 2, 2018 at 6:35 pm | Reply

        so why are taxpayers paying to train workers for a temporary job for a private sector company?

        • Clearly Reed is taking a part of my bigger and more complex comment out of context..misrepresenting my words and the larger context here and has failed to “master” an ability to avoid these kinds of problems.

          REED! POT KETTLE BLACK!

          DUDE! – you have abysmally FAILED to comment “correctly”

          LORD!

        • No, Larry, the reverse of what you allege is true. When you wrote and completed your two sentences at 6:48 PM, the comments of OTHER PEOPLE, but none from you, had been going on for nearly 11 hours.

          So when I replied to your comments which directly followed mine and contradicted mine that were directly above them, it was impossible for me or anyone else to take your words within those two sentences out of their context, simple because you by then had said absolutely nothing else.

          In addition, please understand, that the problem here has nothing to do with your disagreeing with what I or anyone else says, the problem is that I had said directly above your comments had by then expressed absolutely no disagreement with your subsequent two comments. But you wrote them as if I had said something that was the complete opposite of what I said. Thus you left this false impression of my words said in other later readers heads about what in fact I had said.

          Remember, this blog is about people taking opposing viewpoints. But this blog is not about, and should not be about, misrepresenting the words and thoughts that other people write and express, so as to leave false impressions about what they write in the minds of later readers. You need to do a better job of avoiding these results, as you have been reminded many times. This is not an isolated event, far from it.

          I have said all I am going to say on this matter. Far too much time as been spent on it already. But I will not allow you to continue this unfortunate habit without calling you out for it as I deem necessary. Hopefully that won’t be necessary, and we both can spend our energies far more productively without interfering with one another.

          • I really have NO IDEA what you are talking about Reed. It’s something in your own mind about how you think things should be.

            this is a direct quote:

            ” I also suggest that many more, likely most all, of Virginia’s non selective post high school institutions of learning should offer similar skill learning opportunities in a whole host of trades and skills. And they should offer fully complete and stand alone degrees in those courses without the encumbrance of other extraneous courses that students do not need, and far too often, cannot benefit from, but that schools unfairly now require for a degree only to make extra money for themselves.

            Thus many four year colleges should be required to offer two year degrees. This is for the simple and obvious reason that two years is all the education that the student needs to acquire these skill and succeed in deploying them successfully. ”

            You apparently want to impose your ideas of how comments are “interpreted” – to suit your own wants – your own ideas of how things should work.

            how in the world would anyone under those terms know exactly what you “wanted”?

            I simply do not agree with your views on “proper” commenting.

  21. Well.. despite the little back and forth … I appreciate hearing other viewpoints on and off topic that helps build a wider understanding other viewpoints.

    We are , despite the concerns and complaints about people losing their factory and coal mining jobs , job losses to “immigrants” and job loses to outsourcing, we still have one of the most powerfully performing economy on the planet.

    We do have some formidable competitors from Asia and Europe, no question but at this point in time, we actually have some of the lowest unemployment numbers in history.

    So.. from a half glass full, half glass empty point of view – we still have people who are unemployed.. chronically unemployed.. and not great prospects for the future in a lot of the rural geography and some urban geography especially among older workers with obsolete job skills and 20th century public school educations and inner city poverty-cycle folks.

    beating the drums over temporary pipeline jobs.. and the “partnering” of the unions and Community Colleges.. eh.. sounds like more PR from Dominion who, if nothing else, this blog has convinced that I way, way underestimated the extent of the Dominion PR machine!

  22. Jim,
    If LIUNA does what you say they have committed to do, they certainly deserve commendation.
    I understood your concluding remarks to say that you believe this could not have been done without the union.
    If I am correct, I would be curious to know more about why you think this is so.

    • Musings, I did not mean to imply that the job-training program could have been done without the union. I’m simply pointing out that LIUNA is the one that stepped forward to create the partnership. Perhaps someone else could have done it, but no one else stepped forward.

    • Many people knowledgeable in the field of post high school education feel that vocational training in this nation is woefully inadequate. They argue that this shortage is one result of the educational establishment’s “oversell and undue emphasis on the existential need” for a “four year college education” to succeed in this country. And that this official altitude and sales pitch deprecates the dignity and value of blue collar and similar skilled jobs while at the same time the same educational establishment fails to set any meaningful standards for earning real four year college degrees.

      The popular expression for this unfortunate reality is that “We make post high school learning far too easy for those academically gifted, and far too hard for those who are not academically gifted, which is great majority.” In short a real four year college education is quite hard to earn by its very nature. There is no way around that reality absent fraud or devaluation.

      An article in today’s wall street journal throws some light on one aspect of this problem. See “De Vos’s New College Try” in today’s WSJ opinion section.

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