Competition with energy companies for labor spreads
ASPEN Competition with oil and gas companies for workers has spread through the Roaring Fork Valley to this resort.After three years as a cook for the Pitkin County Senior Center, Doug Russell has taken a job as a cook at camps for gas field workers near Parachute and Rifle.”I make two and a half times more (a year) than I was making working two county jobs,” Russell said. “They also have some of the best medical and retirement benefits I’ve seen.”Marty Ames, the county’s senior services director, said the job was a great opportunity for Russell. She said the senior center has found an “equally wonderful” cook to replace him.But other local business haven’t been as lucky. Businesses and government agencies that rely on heavy-equipment operators, skilled mechanics and people with commercial driver’s licenses have had trouble the last few years hiring and keeping employees in part because of competition from high-paying jobs in the natural gas industry.Northwestern Colorado is one of the hot spots in the Rockies’ energy boom. Neighboring Garfield County has seen record gas drilling rates.”It’s an interesting dilemma for all communities within a certain range of development and it’s crept up to our community,” Ames said. “Oil companies have inexhaustible resources to get what they want. That’s tough.”Russell said he’s working long hours for his bigger paycheck. He said he recently put in an 108-hour work week.Employees working for gas companies typically log 12-hour shifts for two straight weeks before getting two weeks off.Russell works for Texas-based Production Services Network, which provides service workers for oil and gas operations worldwide.—Information from: Aspen Daily News, www.aspendailynews.com
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