| February 2, 2007 Volume 108 Number 3
First U.S.-made streetcars will carry union label
The nation’s first U.S.-manufactured modern streetcars will be union-built at Oregon Iron Works.
At a press conference Jan. 26 at the company’s headquarters in Clackamas, company officials, politicians and union leaders announced that Oregon Iron Works, through its subsidiary United Streetcar, LLC, had secured a $4 million contract to manufacture a prototype streetcar for the City of Portland.
“It will create dozens of good union jobs,” said Mike Lappier, business manager of Iron Workers Shopmen’s Local 516, which represents workers at Oregon Iron Works.
Lappier joined Gov. Ted Kulongoski, U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio, Darlene Hooley and Earl Blumenauer, Portland Mayor Tom Potter, Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams, Clackamas County commissioners, and TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen for the announcement.
Funding for the project was secured as a $4 million line-item in the 2005 Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) bill, which authorizes the federal surface transportation programs for highways, highway safety, and transit for the five-year period 2005-2009.
United Streetcar LLC will build a prototype streetcar based on the model currently manufactured in the Czech Republic by Skoda, which makes cars for Portland’s streetcar system.
If interest in streetcars develops, United Streetcar could be supplying them to cities across North America.
“We believe there are 80 cities interested in streetcar systems,” said DeFazio, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Transportation. “The resurgence of streetcars throughout the United States will play an increasing role in urban transit.”
According to Chandra Brown, vice president of Oregon Iron Works, the project will create 20 new jobs, with the potential for hundreds more as national demand increases.
“We intend to provide modern, efficient American-produced streetcars, and to be a pioneering force in increasing urban transit options throughout the United States,” Brown said.
Using United Streetcar, a domestic company, means the streetcar would comply with all federal Buy American rules.
“This project is a shining example of how when we come together across public and private sector lines, that we can deliver economic benefits for businesses, individual Oregonians and our communities,” Kulongoski said.
When the prototype streetcar is completed it will be added to the Portland Streetcar fleet, increasing capacity and working towards the expansion of streetcar service to the Eastside, Lake Oswego, and city-wide.
Oregon Iron Works is a specialized fabrication and manufacturing company that produces components for the U.S. and foreign governments, as well as dams, bridges and other civil engineering and commercial projects. The company employs over 400.
© Oregon Labor Press Publishing Co. Inc.