The Hill: The link between innovation and job creation

Eric Dean, General President of Ironworkers International and Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Industry Labor-Management Association (PILMA) authored the following article on the importance of strong intellectual property protections for job growth. 

Click here to view the article on The Hill.

As the general president of the Ironworkers union, representing 130,000 skilled craft workers in North America, one of my most important responsibilities is to help protect the jobs of highly skilled workers.

The men and women who are members of my union, Ironworkers International, have undergone rigorous apprenticeship training. They have dedicated long nights, days and weekends to hone their craft and earn the right to return to the job site the next day. The building trades are committed to equipping their members with cutting-edge skill sets to be the best. They have over 1600 training facilities located in every state in the U.S. and train thousands of members a year, using zero taxpayer dollars.

The benefit from undergoing extensive training should be good paying jobs with healthcare and pension benefits, all earned by helping to build America’s infrastructure and meeting the construction needs of American business.
There is one industry in particular that depends on our meticulous skill set for their own survival. The biopharmaceutical industry knows that state-of-the-art facilities are essential to discovering life-saving medicines and therapies. For each new drug developed, facilities must be wiped clean, whole systems must be replaced while guaranteeing no cross contamination.

This industry relies on the building construction trades unions to build, maintain and retrofit these facilities. In order to meet the rigorous standards of biopharmaceutical manufacturers, our training centers align curriculum to the needs of the industry. The development of new life saving drugs depends on this key relationship.

At a time when the regulatory environment surrounding medicines is continually in flux, building and retrofitting biopharmaceutical manufacturing and research facilities must be flawlessly executed on schedule. Our skill, reliability and professionalism create a foundation of certainty that the job will be done on time, on budget and right the first time.

At the same time, while these companies rely on a skilled craft workforce to help them construct the facilities where they research and discover new medicines, they also rely on an intellectual property regime that will provide continuity and certainty for these life-saving medicines. Our patent system ensures that products developed by companies here in the United States will not be pirated and sold illegally.

As chairman of the Pharmaceutical Industry Labor-Management Association (PILMA), a coalition of labor unions and companies in the biopharmaceutical industry dedicated to innovation and growing the economy, I cannot stress enough the importance of strong intellectual property protections to economic growth.

The logic is plain and simple: Patents are surrounded by current jobs, and future jobs. Strong IP protections help create a stable environment for businesses to invest, for innovation to thrive and for new development. Each new facility presents an opportunity for our members to earn a living, support their family and maintain stability in the middle class.

The United States is the most innovative country in the world and we must keep it that way. The more a country invests in its research and development, the stronger the economy. On average it takes 10-15 years to develop a new drug, costing $2.6 billion, and most never even make it to market. The U.S. must ensure that the investment of time, money and human capital will be protected if biopharmaceutical companies are successful and have the opportunity to earn a return.

Our members take great pride in their work. The satisfaction of building a structure that will be a permanent part of a city’s skyline is unmatched only by the fulfillment of building a facility that will cure diseases and saves lives.

Patents are the foundation of innovation. It is what biopharmaceutical companies are built on. Labor and industry have fulfilled their commitment to working together. Now it’s time for the United States Congress to renew its commitment to protecting innovation and the livelihoods of the best trained workers in the world.


Providence Journal: Labor, industry build R.I.

Tim Byrne, Business Manager of United Association Local 51 and George Nee, President of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, authored the following post following the PILMA facility tour at Local 51 in East Providence, Rhode Island.

Click here to view the article on the Providence Journal website.

In Rhode Island and around the country, it is often said that labor, industry and government should put aside differences and work together to build up the economy, create jobs and spur innovation. Here in Rhode Island, we’ve listened, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Earlier this year, we hosted a training facility tour of United Association Local 51 with Gov. Gina M. Raimondo, representatives of the biopharmaceutical industry and area labor unions. They saw firsthand how our state-of-the-art training programs prepare apprentices to meet the retrofitting and construction needs of Rhode Island industry. Bringing these groups together is evidence of how our cooperation is putting people back to work.

Rhode Island was hit hard by the recession, with construction taking the brunt of the blow. As the unemployment rate falls for the state overall, job creation in this sector continues to lag. Before businesses can invest locally in new and existing infrastructure, they must first have confidence in their economic outlook. That’s what we’re seeing in Rhode Island — a state whose unemployment rate dropped dramatically from 7.7 percent a year ago to 5.8 percent today.

Despite the recession, the biopharmaceutical industry has continually relied on the skill of our members.

This industry, and members of the building construction trades unions, have been working side-by-side for over 10 years, committed to the shared goals of expanding the economy, creating quality jobs and fostering innovation. The driving force behind this partnership, formalized as the Pharmaceutical Industry Labor-Management Association, is the shared belief in and dedication to pushing the limits of what is possible.

Whether it is discovering life-saving cures or retrofitting a custom environment to manufacture medicines, the building trades and biopharmaceutical industry are continually innovating and challenging their capabilities.

As the business manager of UA Local 51 and the president of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, we must prepare our members to meet and exceed industry standards. To remain competitive, the building construction trades unions invest over $1 billion in training their members each year to learn the latest technology and cutting-edge techniques, all privately funded. This means that the biopharmaceutical companies have a ready pool of skilled construction workers to build and retrofit facilities where new drugs and even cures are discovered and manufactured.

We are fortunate that Governor Raimondo recognizes the importance of creating a stable environment for business to thrive and investing in new and existing infrastructure here in Rhode Island. Her initiative, Real Jobs Rhode Island, does just that by ensuring that businesses have access to a skilled workforce to meet their needs.

The biopharmaceutical industry sets exacting standards for its research and manufacturing facilities. Companies that invest in Rhode Island, such as Amgen, whose recent $500 million expansion was built with a project labor agreement, have realized that hiring union contractors makes good business sense since they are putting the best-trained, safest and most productive workers on their capital construction projects. They know that hiring union workers means that the job will be done right the first time.

Our members also enjoy the benefits of new medical breakthroughs much as other Americans do. The building trades provide top medical care for our members and as a result are healthier throughout their lives and into retirement.

The building construction trades take great pride in our work. This is especially true for those who build and retrofit biopharmaceutical facilities. We’re proud to build the foundation, walls and surfaces where scientists are developing new therapies to treat cancer, prevent the spread of deadly disease and develop other cures for illnesses that were once fatal. Their contribution not only earns them a paycheck, but also the knowledge that they have made a difference in the quality of life of Americans and people throughout the world. It’s important that we continue to protect the industries that provide life-saving medicines as well as the jobs, economic vibrancy and the medical breakthroughs that come with it.

LillyPad: Why Businesses and Labor Need to Work Together

Kathy Bilotas, State Government Affairs Advisor at Eli Lilly and Company authored the following post following the PILMA facility tour at Local 51 in East Providence, Rhode Island.

Click here to view the post on the LillyPad website.

Earlier this fall, I joined labor leaders, biopharmaceutical company representatives and Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo for a tour of the training center facility at Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 51 in East Providence, Rhode Island. What brought these seemingly unrelated groups together, you ask?  To demonstrate the importance of business, labor and government coming together to create smart policies to encourage economic growth.

In order to discover and produce life-saving medicines and cures, the biopharmaceutical industry demands exacting standards for their research and manufacturing facilities. With each new drug trial, whole facilities must be wiped clean, surfaces must be sterilized and entire systems must be replaced. High-skilled labor is a critical factor when building and retrofitting biopharmaceutical facilities. We can’t afford to discontinue a trial or start over in the discovery process because of cross contamination or an uncontrolled factor.

The building construction trades invest more than $1 billion a year in training their members to learn the latest technology and cutting-edge techniques. For nearly 14 years, the Pharmaceutical Industry Labor-Management Association (PILMA) has united labor unions in the building construction trades and the biopharmaceutical industry with the shared goals of expanding the economy, creating high-quality union construction jobs, and fostering innovation. The facility tour, organized by PILMA, Rhode Island AFL-CIO and UA Local 51,  highlighted some of these investments. The video below shows a sneak peek at the facility tour.

As the facility tour demonstrated, the building trades customize their apprenticeship training programs to the specific needs of biopharmaceutical companies. Local 51 has a training room dedicated to the installment and maintenance of piping for anesthesia, oxygen and other compounds vital in hospitals. They know that one mistake in the installation of these systems could cost someone their life.

Behind every apprentice there must be a job; Lilly is proud to work with union contractors and their highly trained skilled workforce for much of our capital expansion and maintenance.  We rely on their skills to build and manage the facilities required for our quest for developing life-saving medicines.

Not only are the building trades the highest-skilled, but they are the safest-trained workforce in the world. Access to skilled workers is essential to the discovery and production of new medicines and cures. Biopharmaceutical companies and the building trades unions depend on one another for continual innovation and for keeping jobs here in the U.S.


PILMA Condemns Pricing Practices of Turing and Valeant

PILMA released the following statement rejecting the ‘profit-over-patients’ philosophy of hedge-fund, acquisition-only creations and joins the research-based biopharmaceutical industry and others in condemning their practices.

Click here to download the statement.

PILMA stands with labor and industry trustees to condemn ‘profits-over-patients’ practices of hedge-fund, acquisition-only companies.

For over ten years, the Pharmaceutical Industry Labor-Management Association has united the biopharmaceutical industry and union workers with the dual goals of fostering innovation of life-saving cures and securing high-quality union construction jobs. As the partnership has grown over the years, so has its impact. Labor and industry recognize the strength in their partnership: a strong industry naturally leads to good jobs and a vibrant economy.

The pharmaceutical industry members of PILMA recognize that the most highly skilled workers are needed to construct and maintain the highest quality research and manufacturing facilities. Following each new drug trial, research facilities are reengineered to meet the exacting requirements of each new development — entire systems must be changed, surfaces must be sterilized, and facilities are redesigned and retrofitted with specialized equipment. In many instances entire manufacturing processes must be redeveloped. This requires highly skilled reliable labor that the industry can depend on to do the job right.

At the same time, PILMA addresses critical issues pertaining to access to life-sustaining medicines, the research for new cures, and the biopharmaceutical ecosphere that is required to develop and produce new medicines. Innovation in biopharmaceutical research, development and manufacturing puts the best trained, most highly skilled, safest workers in the world on the jobsite.

Recent developments where hedge fund operators have pursued predatory pricing practices while leveraging the value of these life-saving medicines have created great concern among patients and advocates for affordable medicines. PILMA recognizes the great disparity between the business practices and corporate cultures of these businesses and the research-based biopharmaceutical companies that belong to PILMA, that utilize union construction workers to fulfill their capital construction needs, and meet the promise of research and discovery through their work.
PILMA rejects the ‘profit-over-patients’ philosophy of these hedge-fund, acquisition-only creations and joins the research-based biopharmaceutical industry and others in condemning their practices.

Together, with America’s biopharmaceutical industry, the men and women of the trade union effort will continue to show value on display, every day while building and maintaining research and manufacturing facilities, providing needed high-skilled jobs, and helping in the drive to find cures to disease.

Governor Gina M. Raimondo Tours UA Local 51 East Providence Facility

On September 17, 2015 Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo toured the United Association’s Local 51 training center located in East Providence.

The event, hosted by the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, UA Local 51 and PILMA, highlighted the rigorous apprenticeship programs that prepare members to build and retrofit biopharmaceutical facilities.

To learn more about the event click here.


MSNBC Video: Apprenticeships Offer Debt-Free Job Training

Sean McGarvey, President of North America’s Building Trades Unions, highlights in a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece how apprenticeship programs help individuals learn trades. He joins to explain how the programs work and how they are “a much more cost-effective way of acquiring jobs skills than a traditional college degree.

Click here to view the video.

PILMA Honors President Wise

Jacqueline Kirby, AstraZeneca, presents an award to President Walter Wise for his service as chairman
Jacqueline Kirby, AstraZeneca, presents award to President Walter Wise for his service as PILMA Chairman.

At PILMA’s May 27th Trustee Meeting, the trustees unanimously approved a resolution honoring President Walter Wise for his outstanding leadership and thoughtful engagement while serving as Chairman of PILMA. Wise will retire as President of the Iron Workers International on July 1, 2015 and subsequently will step down from his chairmanship. On behalf of all the PILMA trustees, Jacqueline Kirby of AstraZeneca presented Wise with a commemorative award for his unwavering service.

SMART Highlights PILMA DGA Event

SMART Members’ Journal March/April 2015 edition highlighted the December 2014 PILMA event at the Democratic Governors Association’s conference in Beverly Hills, California which Local Union 105 attended.

“Following each new drug trial, research facilities must be wiped clean; entire systems must be changed, surfaces must be sterilized, and other equipment must be replaced. This requires highly skilled, reliable labor the industry can depend on to do the job right.”

Click here to read the full article as published in SMART Journal.

Life Sciences: Finding Cures, Creating Jobs

Former Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Bill George and Vincent Panvini of the Sheet Metal Workers at the event.
Former Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Bill George and Vincent Panvini of the Sheet Metal Workers.

On March 19, 2015, PILMA participated in the DE, PA and NJ Life Sciences: Finding Cures, Creating Jobs event held at the Cannon House Office Building. The interactive display presentations showcased significant contributions that life sciences companies from Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania make to global health, the local economy and workforces.  PILMA

stood out among the participants due to its specific focus on job creation and connection to labor unions in the participating states.

Event sponsors included BioNJ, Delaware Bio, Health Care Institute of New Jersey, Pennsylvania Bio and We Work for Health. Other event participants included AstraZeneca, Celgene, Merck, Community Liver Alliance, New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies (NJAMHAA) and PAREXEL.