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500 southern Illinois union construction jobs guaranteed at Cairo Port after labor agreement reached

cairo port, barge, river

CAIRO (WSIL) -- The construction of a new inland port at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers took another step forward today as the Alexander Cairo Port District completed a project labor agreement (PLA) with the Illinois AFL-CIO. 

The project labor agreement ensures that more than 500 jobs created by the construction of the Cairo port will be filled by local Illinois union workers.

Eighty percent of the nation’s inland barge traffic travels past Cairo, and the site is served by three major interstate highways and class 1 rail lines so this new project is expected to have a major impact on the U.S. shipping and logistics industry and the regional economy. 

In August 2020, Governor JB Pritzker announced that the Rebuild Illinois capital plan would provide $40 million in state funding for construction of the port. The Port District is securing additional private investment and will structure the Cairo port as a public-private partnership.

MORE: Gov. Pritzker announces $40 million for Alexander-Cairo Port project

Major logistics and commodities businesses have already committed to using the new port to move crops, container shipments and bulk products once it is completed.

“The Cairo port district represents the best of Rebuild Illinois: investing in not only infrastructure, but also jobs and economic prosperity for a region left out for far too long,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Thanks to the Alexander Cairo Port District and the Illinois AFL-CIO, more than 500 Illinois workers and their families will have access to good union jobs in the next stages of the port’s construction – opportunities that couldn’t come at a better time for the people of Illinois. Our building trades are top notch, and I have every faith the team on the ground will deliver the state-of-the-art infrastructure Southern Illinois deserves.”

“With the inclusion of this PLA, we know that these well-paying construction jobs will go to Illinoisans, boosting our local economy and investing in the region,” said State Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg). “I am confident that Alexander-Cairo port will be game-changing for our state, spurring additional economic development and growth. With such a big undertaking, we could not move forward with this project without the incredible local labor workforce of Southern Illinois spearheading its development.”

“The Cairo Port is exactly the kind of project Illinois needs,” said Tim Drea, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO. “This port has the potential to transform the region and the men and women of Illinois organized labor have the talent to build it. Our craftsmen and tradesmen are second to none and we can’t wait to show it yet again on the Cairo Port project.”

“All the construction trades in our region are proud to see the Cairo port moving forward and are thrilled to be part of the project,” said Tate Wright of the Egyptian Building & Construction and Building Trades Council. “This port will use our location at the confluence of America’s two largest rivers to drive jobs, industry and investment to Southern Illinois.”

“We are ensuring that the jobs and economic growth created by this port flow back to Cairo and the surrounding region,” said Larry Klein, chairman of the Alexander Cairo Port District. “This labor agreement is another reason why the Cairo Port will be a game changer for Southern Illinois.”

“We are building a world-class port in Cairo and need the highest quality labor force to make it happen,” said Todd Ely, lead consultant for the port district and president of Ely Consulting Group. “We know we can depend on the women and men of Illinois’ building trades to make this project a success.”

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Kenzie Dillow

Kenzie Dillow is the Social Media and Digital Content Manager at News 3 WSIL. She joined the team in 2016 as a video editor, moved into a Producer role in 2017 and took over the SMDCM position in 2021. Kenzie graduated from SIU Carbondale in 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Sports Broadcasting and a minor in Advertising.

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