Message from Local 49 Business Manager Jason George
Message from Local 49 Business Manager Jason George
Happy Holidays to all of you and your family. I wanted to take a minute to update you all on a few items as we head into the New Year. There is much to be hopeful for in 2019. The work outlook for Operating Engineers in all sectors looks incredible.
Years of hard work advocating at the legislature and in the regulatory process for construction projects are paying off. Major projects are going to begin in 2019, and because we were engaged as a membership, they are going to be built by our members.
Southwest Light Rail has been approved– This is a $2 billion construction project that will be a joint venture for McCrossan and Lunda. This project will employ hundreds of Local 49 members with construction expecting to begin later this winter.
Polymet Mining has received their Permit to Mine– This is a major milestone that will allow the company to start construction while they get the other permits they need. Construction will begin in 2019 and will last 24-30 months. There are more than two million work hours on this project and it will be built under a Project Labor Agreement that ensures it will be 100 percent union.
Major Shutdowns in Twin Cities Refineries– We have been informed that there will be major shutdowns at Flint Hills and St. Paul Park refineries in September of next year for 4-6 weeks. In addition, it looks like there might be a ramp up period this summer. We will pass along more information as we get it, but the initial information we are getting is that we will need hundreds of Operators to fill these jobs.
MNDOT work in Minnesota– Due to legislative successes in the past few years, the 2019 road construction package will see an increase of hundreds of millions of dollars. This will be the largest MNDOT package ever let, and this trend will continue for the next couple of years. We have more work to do to get long term funding, but the next few years are going to be great.
Building work in Duluth– Duluth city council member Arik Forsman stated to Local 49 members at the Duluth Union meeting that there is expected to be hundreds of millions of dollars in building construction projects that will be happening in Duluth in the next couple of years. The main project is a major expansion at Essentia Hospital, but the city will also be looking to pump millions into street repairs and other projects.
Flood Diversion in Fargo– We anticipate that there will be a decision made on this project in the next 4-6 weeks. We are working to ensure that Minnesota and North Dakota union contractors have an opportunity to bid and get this work in the Fargo/Moorhead area – this is a $3 billion construction project.
We have increased our presence in the wind construction industry. We looked at projects that were coming on the books in the next few years and realized that if we didn’t get proactive, non-union workers not from our area would largely build those projects. We have been working with owners and developers to pitch the use of our local skilled union trades to build their projects. We have had some great success so far. Developers are starting to make deals with union construction firms in our areas to build their projects. The regulatory agencies are starting to demand that wind developers show them where they will get their workforce to build projects, and legislators are starting to think about incentives for companies to build using local union labor. Non-union RES developer/construction contractor just had their permit delayed because of questions we raised as to where they would get their workforce from. The MN PUC asked them to produce information to show the benefit to local construction workers.
There will be billions of dollars in the construction of wind projects in our jurisdiction within the next 2-3 years. We are ahead of the game in making sure that Local 49 members are the ones that build as many of these projects as possible. Again, this wouldn’t be happening if we weren’t participating and engaging as a union in these conversations.
Line 3 replacement has been approved by the MN Public Utilities Commission and will begin construction in 2019. There will be more than 5,000 workers on this project during peak construction. This will be a 100 percent Union built project, and discussions are happening to codify that with a Project Labor Agreement. This project wouldn’t be moving forward if it were not for the incredible support of Local 49 members showing up at hearings and sending in comments. This is perhaps the best example of how we can win work by being engaged and showing up.
Public Sector/Met Council in MN
We are seeing an uptick in hiring in the public sector and the Met Council. In addition, with the election of Tim Walz as our next Governor, we will see increases to local government aid be a priority, which will help ensure local governments have the money they need to build and maintain their infrastructure. There will be a focus on new construction of wastewater treatment facilities that we will build and maintain. We have not seen any negative impact of the Janus decision, we have actually gained some members. We are working with our Training Center to expand opportunities for public sector members in Hinckley as well. Things look good for the public sector in 2019 and we will work to build on this recent success.
Private Sector Shops
Members that work in private sector shops can expect a good year in 2019 as well for the most part. The tremendous increase in public and private construction projects that will happen in 2019 will mean an increase in work for our private shops as well. Equipment rental shops, aggregate operations, and other private shops will all benefit from a booming construction economy in our region.
As you can see, 2019 is going to be a great year. At Local 49 we are making great progress as well. For the first time, Local 49 has a budget and this will be shared at all local union meetings in November and December. We are saving money for the first time in a long time, and are professionalizing our Union to better serve you. In 2019 you can anticipate being able to pay dues online, shopping online for Local 49 gear, and other innovative changes that you have asked for. We will also continue to partner with our contractors to make improvements for the membership and the industry at the Training Center. We will continue to try to keep health care costs stable, as we did this year with no increases for active members.
As a reminder, make sure to RSVP to attend a Local 49 holiday party near you. You can RSVP for the parties online by clicking here.
We will continue to inform you of everything that is happening with your Union, and together, we will continue to grow and prosper.
Jason George, Local 49 Business Manager/ Financial Secretary
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What is “Prevailing Wage”?
Prevailing Wage laws set wage rates for construction workers on publicly financed projects. On prevailing wage jobs, contractors are not allowed to pay less than the area wage rates for each craft.
The wage rates are set by the government – each area of the state has their own rates, and rates are based on wage surveys turned in by contractors and workers on construction jobs in their area. The government sets the rates for each area based on those surveys and what workers make on those jobs.
Our prevailing wage law ensures that all blue-collar workers building our roads, bridges and infrastructure can earn good pay for a hard day’s work. But some out-of-state organizations want to lower the wages for construction workers.
What is “Right To Work”?
Do you realize that a worker can spend an entire career working at a Union shop, pay zero dues their entire career because they’re in a so-called “right-to-work” state, and then get the same pension and health care in retirement that dues paying members get?
No other organization in America is forced to provide services and benefits to people who pay nothing for those services and benefits.
It is time to bring some fairness back into this system – Unions should be allowed to charge for the services that they are legally required to provide to workers that chose to work at a Union shop.
Elevate Minnesota is the statewide public relations campaign where through this effort, working class unions are going to speak directly to the people of Minnesota about the value we bring to the state.
The Enbridge Line 3 Project is a critical project for members of Local 49 that would create thousands of jobs, and it is in danger. Show your support for this project by attending public hearings that will be hosted throughout the state.