GLOBALFOUNDRIES, the former manufacturing arm of AMD, is the largest semiconductor production facility in the US. Located in Upstate NY, the campus of the mega manufacturer in Malta, NY has been erected under a Project Labor Agreement with the Building Trades from the onset of the project. Some 10,000 construction workers have been working on the site, making it the largest PLA in history.

Last summer GLOBALFOUNDRIES completed a second 221,000 sq. ft. administration building that houses engineers, technicians and project personnel…and in January announced that they will be breaking ground this year on a Technology Development Center, or TDC, which will add another 500,000 sq. ft. of lab and production space.  That brings the site to well over 2 million sq. ft. and the cost of construction and tooling to over $8 billion dollars.

The economic impact of undertaking the largest project anywhere on the globe during the worst economic downturn on the planet can’t be overstated.  What it has meant to construction workers and their families is only part of the story; the entire supply chain, support industries and direct employees have all benefited.  It is estimated that in addition to the over 10,000 construction workers who have worked on the site, the current direct workforce of over 2,000 has been supported by an additional 10,000 – 12,000 indirect support jobs throughout the region. That 2,000 number is expected to grow to over 3,000 within 2 years.

How did the PLA come to fruition? Mike Russo, a former union official for nearly three decades, now working for GLOBALFOUNDRIES, understood that the “Building Trades can be an asset if they are engaged in a collaborative process and are part of the team that helps to solve problems that occur on a project.  We knew there would be a Building Trades presence on the site regardless of a PLA or not; it made sense for us to enter into a mutually beneficial agreement.  We were able to lay all of our cards on the table and reach an agreement that set the tone for the future”.

If you talk to Gerald Goff, the person who runs GLOBALFOUNDRIES Project Management Office, he has been impressed by the collaborative approach of the Building Trades.  “I am from Texas and my perception of the Union Building Trades has been informed by very different experiences.  In the Capital Region market the reps are always trying to be proactive in their approach and to get ahead of things…to anticipate problems and to be part of the solution.  For example, they are partnering with us to establish training centers and curriculum to ensure that craftsman that work on the site are well qualified.”

The story isn’t over.  GLOBALFOUNDRIES is currently in front of the local jurisdictions requesting approval to build yet another fab that is 1.5 X the size of its current fab.  While the decision hasn’t been made to move forward with fab “8.2” as it is referred to, if the business decides to move ahead, it could mean another $15 billion dollars in investment and close to 4,000 new construction jobs…and not just any construction jobs; they intend to enter into another PLA that will include all site construction in the future.

After over 6 million man-hours and 3 PLA’s, GLOBALFOUNDRIES has come to value its relationship with the Building Trades. As Scott Martell, the Business Manager of LU 773 of the Pipetrades out of Glens Falls puts it, who has more members on the site than any other of the Building Trades:  “our members are proud of the work they do, willing to learn and acquire new skills that will be relevant in the new “Tech Valley”…and our new, progressive, approach has proven to be an asset to the owner.  It is because of this collaborative approach that I believe we can and will become a strategic advantage to GLOBALFOUNDRIES as it strives to compete in the globally competitive market place.