COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on every American and every industry in the U.S. In response, scientists moved at record-breaking speed to develop a new vaccine that saved thousands of lives. Less recognized but no less essential was the unprecedented mobilization of America’s building trades to create the infrastructure for manufacturing and delivering those vaccines to the world. We should not forget this.
When Pfizer invested $450 million to expand its Kalamazoo area facility in 2018, we never imagined this investment would pay life-saving dividends as a critical manufacturing site for the COVID-19 vaccine. Thanks to the excellent craftsmanship and exacting standard of IBEW Local 131, Pfizer was primed to convert the facility into a state-of-the-art manufacturing and cold storage facility at the height of the pandemic.
IBEW workers mobilized to install hundreds of freezer units that maintain temperatures of up to 90 degrees below zero and continue to retrofit the campus to produce Pfizer’s vaccine right here in Michigan. This extraordinary accomplishment would not have been possible without the existing partnership between Pfizer and IBEW Local 131.
The partnership between the biopharmaceutical industry and the building trades has created increased investments in jobs and infrastructure right here in Michigan. Fifteen active construction projects represent over $1.3 billion in investments under construction in our state from 2015 to 2020, yielding over $25 million in union construction wages. The biopharmaceutical industry employs almost 10,000 Michigan workers, many of them labor union members.
The building trades invest over $1.6 billion annually to train members in the latest cutting-edge techniques and safety standards. In addition to building out manufacturing facilities, IBEW local unions throughout the country work hard to keep our lights on, building hospitals, and making sure Michigan’s communication and broadcast infrastructure is stable and reliable. Indeed, the ability of scientists to develop and manufacture the next life-saving pharmaceutical relies on the continued investment and partnership between the bioscience industry and skilled trades.
Unfortunately, Lansing is putting this partnership at risk by attempting to impose onerous regulations through a Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB). While we all support more affordable drug prices, a PDAB would create a top-down bureaucracy that could impede investments like those undertaken by Pfizer in Kalamazoo. We can’t allow politicians in Lansing to hamper research and development on the next life-saving medicine. Nor can we afford to sacrifice the biopharmaceutical industry’s role in diversifying our economy.
Encouraging investment in high-tech fields such as biosciences strengthens our economy and provides continued work for those in building trades.
This article originally appeared on detriotnews.com: https://www.detroitnews.com/story/opinion/2023/09/26/applebey-prescription-drug-board-would-stifle-innovation/70959860007/
By Morris Applebey
September 26, 2023
The Detroit News