In 1934, German scientists discovered nuclear fission, the splitting of an atom of uranium into two elements. If fission became a chain reaction, the energy of the nucleus of the uranium atom might be released. A very large number of atoms split very quickly might result in a massive explosion. Five years later, Albert Einstein wrote a letter to President Roosevelt describing the potential power of a nuclear bomb. American military leaders decided they needed to build a laboratory to create a nuclear weapon. They searched for a location at least 200 miles from a coastline or international border. The site needed to be sparsely populated because an accident might cause horrendous damage. They settled on a secluded school for boys in the desert land of Los Alamos, New Mexico. Robert Oppenheimer led a group of almost 6000 scientists in what became known as the top secret Manhattan Project.. The scientists were ready to test their work at sunrise on a summer morning in 1945.
The awakening sky filled with light brighter than anything seen before on earth. Early risers more than 150 miles away heard the unimaginable roar of the bomb. Oppenheimer later remarked, “We knew the world would never be the same.”
On January 10, 1944 a group of Construction Labor Union Leaders formalized their bond and formed the New Mexico Building and Construction Trades Council. Many of the Local Unions had headquarters at that time in El Paso, Texas. Albuquerque/Santa Fe became an “outpost” for them as their members were being trained and dispatched to support projects including the conversion of the Los Alamos Ranch School into what is now the world’s premier research laboratory dealing in nuclear technology advancement.
In the ensuing 63 years the workers represented by affiliates of the NMBCTC have put forth their skills to build the White Sands Missile Range Complex, Holloman Air Force Base, Canon Air Force Base, Walker Air Force Base, The Strategic Defense Initiative, Intel – Rio Rancho, Four Corners Fossil Fuel Power Generating Stations , Universities, Schools, Shopping Centers and the recent University of New Mexico Children’s Hospital. Their efforts stabilize the construction workforce in New Mexico assure good wages and working conditions, and provide labor agreements which assure the construction users in NM that properly trained and safe workers are available today and tomorrow.
Excerpts from Op Ed Article in Albuquerque Journal authored by Mark Henderson, President of JB Henderson Construction:
When the Regents decided to use a (NMBCTC) PLA, they were looking for an effective means to complete the UNMH project fast, and at considerably less cost, than they had seen in the past with other UNM construction projects… As the hospital is such an essential community resource, they could not have any construction or labor disputes adversely impacting the facility. Furthermore, because this was a major public project using taxpayer dollars, it was important that they ensured the money was well spent and that the university and the public received a facility that was well constructed. They needed a reliable supply of skilled workers and stable labor costs; and the (NMBCTC) PLA provided just that. .. Now, Albuquerque has a new, state-of-the-art expansion at UNMH (Children’s Hospital) that will serve our community and a well-trained workforce to attract economic development. After seeing the results, there should be no doubt that the PLA provided UNM and taxpayers with substantial benefits in terms of project planning and project delivery. I know that I am satisfied with this experience and look forward to bringing a PLA to the table for future large-scale projects. Mark Henderson