Volunteer and Donate to Help Local Communities

Volunteer and Donate to Help Local Communities

Volunteer Event
Join Local 49 on Friday, June 21st for the Land of 1,000 Lakes Day of Action  volunteer event hosted by United Way, Itasca County Habitat for Humanity and the Itasca County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) to help residents in the Oakland Addition area in Itasca County.

Volunteers will be helping homeowners who are currently unable to keep up with maintenance  of their homes due to age, disability, or financial hardship.

Volunteers will be working on projects such as: 

  • Yard: leaf-raking, landscaping, gardening, pruning
  • Exterior: window washing, painting, installing ramps and grab bars
  • Minor Repairs: steps, doors, windows, roof
  • General Clean-up: dispose of items such as garbage, mattresses, old appliances and electronics

Members and your families are encouraged to volunteer. Volunteers can sign up before the event or between 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on Friday, June 21st. Volunteers can help for an hour and up to the entire time of the event, they will accept any help they can get.

Click here to sign up to volunteer now!

Collecting Donations at the Local 49 Metro Area Summer Picnic

Local 49 is partnering with the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans to collect donations for their Move-in Kits. The kits are given to veterans and their families when they move into stable housing and out of homelessness.  The kits include basic necessities that somebody moving out of homelessness would not be able to afford and helps them get started so they can maintain a stable living environment.

We will be collecting donations at the summer picnic on June 23 from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at Hope Glen Farm of items included on the donation list. Donations could include an entire assembled kit, or any of the items listed. Gift Cards to grocery stores and cash donations will also be greatly appreciated. All money raised will be used to complete as many move in kits as possible.

Local 49 is committed to helping those who sacraficed so much for our country. We recognize many of our own members are military veterans and we are dedicating more of our outreach efforts to assist the military veteran community. These events are just the start of many future volunteer and community events that Local 49 will be involved in. If you have any questions please contact Kipp Hanson, Local 49 Political Organizer, at 612-391-7176 or e-mail here.

May 23, 2019

Minnesota Builders Agreement

Minnesota Builders Agreement

A ratification vote took place Sunday, April 28 at locations across our three states on a proposal for a new MN Builders Contract. The contract proposal that was presented to the membership passed with strong support. We have a new agreement that goes into effect May 1, 2019. Thank you to the membership that showed up to vote. More detail will be given at your next Union meeting.
Jason George
Business Manager

April 29, 2019

Trades Women Build Nations Conference Coming to Minneapolis

Trades Women Build Nations Conference Coming to Minneapolis

The 9thannual Trades Women Build Nations Conference will be hosted in Minneapolis on Oct. 4-6, 2019, and the members of the Local 49 Women’s Group are gearing up for the event by taking experiences from their trip last year to plan for this year’s event.

The members of the newly established Local 49 women’s group, Wendy Stuhr, Connie Smallman, Debra DeBruzzi, Akeethia Brown, Kim Bray, and Britney Bray all attended the 8thAnnual Trades Women Build Nations Conference in Seattle, Washington last fall. The conference brings in nearly 2,000 tradeswomen from all over the country.

The Trades Women Build Nations Conference is for women of all ages and skill levels who either currently work or aspire to work in the construction trades. Whether they are on the pre-apprentice level or seasoned journeypersons, the conference provides a unique opportunity to learn from and connect with tradeswomen from around the country and world.

Kim and Britney Bray attended the conference for the first time. “The conference provided me with the opportunity to network and hear stories from many other women in the building trades,” Britney Bray said. “The presentations and classes covered a variety of topics and issues that women in the trades face. A highlight for me was learning about current and historical efforts relating to unions and labor movements.”

“I was able to share my experiences with other women, and I now know how important it is for me to step up and become a mentor and a leader,” Kim Bray added.

The conference offered more than 35 workshops and sessions and was focused on the needs of tradeswomen and the unique challenges they face. The workshops and sessions were facilitated by tradeswomen and featured union leaders, apprenticeship coordinators, contractors, and elected officials. They covered various topics such as recruitment and retention, leadership development, policy, and politics.

This was Wendy Stuhr’s first time at the conference and she said it was an eye-opening and rewarding opportunity.

“The conference was absolutely wonderful…and seeing so many women in leadership made me think that’s something we can bring here through additional education and opportunities,” Stuhr said.

Debra DeBruzzi and Connie Smallman, who previously attended the conference in 2017, shared their experiences attending the conference for the second time.

“The workshops still focused on finding ways to promote tradeswomen through building knowledge and gave ideas to develop leadership skills in our jobs in the union,” Smallman said.

“”I enjoyed meeting so many intelligent, hard working and supportive women and men who were encouraging each and every participant to be the best they can be at whatever point they are in their careers,” Smallman added.

IUOE Members who attended 2018 Tradeswomen Build Nations Conference

DeBruzzi noted that the difference between the first year she attended the conference and the one she attended in the fall was the connections she made with other members in IUOE locals.

“This time I was able to meet so many women from our own trade and so part of the focus was meeting our other sisters out there, and Local 302 really welcomed us and facilitated all of that,” DeBruzzi said. “I think it’s really important to network and hear what other women in our trade are doing.”

Leaders from IUOE Local 302 organized several activities prior to and during the conference. One  activitity was a high school career fair where all IUOE members were invited to assist at.

“Watching the students operate the equipment gave me a stronger sense of pride in my union, because I got to share the knowledge that I’ve obtained with each and every person,” Akeethia Brown said. “I know that day we all inspired those students, especially the young women, because by seeing us they now know that they can excel in construction.”

IUOE Local 302 also hosted a networking event and the women’s group plans to organize a similar networking event for the Minneapolis conference for all IUOE members to attend.

“All IUOE members were invited to attend a networking fishing trip prior to the conference, and it was such a great way to meet the women from the other (IUOE) locals,” Stuhr said. “We want to show that same hospitality when the conference is here.”

While the conference was focused on women in the trades, there were many male attendees as well. They included business agents from different trades, business owners and other leaders in the union and business community.

“We want to encourage all members to attend the conference this year, including our fellow brothers, we’re stronger when we’re unified,” Stuhr said.

The Local 49 Women’s Group also wants to encourage other female members to get involved in the group. They are not only focusing on organizing events for the upcoming conference, but are getting involved in other opportunities that will empower female members and their success in the industry.

If you are interested in joining the group and learning more information please e-mail WomenOfLocal49@gmail.com

The agenda for the 2019 Trades Women Build Nations Conference has yet to be release, but more information can be found at www.nabtu.org/twbn


The Local 49 Women’s Group wanted to extend a special thank you to Marg Newgendt, Lacey Hall and Tami St. Paul of IUOE Local 302.

April 15, 2019

Building Allianz Field

Building Allianz Field

Photo credit: www.allianzlife.com

Local 49 members have made enormous contributions in building every major stadium in Minnesota, and the new Allianz Field is no exception.

More than 50 Local 49 members and several of Local 49 signatory contractors were instrumental in building the new home of the Minnesota United FC, which is celebrating its grand opening today.

Justin Degnan, Superintendent for Bolander, said the preparation and pre-planning by Mortenson, the general contractor, coordinated the success for the rest of the project.

“The planning and the flow of the job was excellent,” Degnan said. “The preparation of the work that was going to take place was huge and Mortenson did a great job.”

Bolander completed the demolition and site development for the project. They had a dozen operators on the job that hauled out 200,000 tons of contaminated soil and hauled in 70,000 cubic yards of clean material and 60,000 yards of sand for back fill.

The demolition of the site had to be completed in two phases. “South of the 50-yard line was the first phase and then north of the 50-yard line was the second phase,” Degnan said. The second phase being the largest at 250,000 square feet.

Photo credit: Local 49

Wayne Iverson, a 21-year member, worked on the project for Mortenson for nearly its entirety as a crane operator and heavy equipment operator. It was his first time being a part of a project of this size from start to finish.

“It was pretty amazing to be a part of the beginning with the foundations being poured to loading materials at the very end,” Iverson said.

Iverson has worked on many of the stadiums in the Twin Cities and said what made Allianz Field so unique to construct was the shape of the stadium.

“The round tubing to make the shape of the stadium was partially fabricated in two different states and then shipped to the project site, so that was unique to be a part of and it’s something I’ve never seen done before,” he said.

Cal Ziegler, a 43-year Local 49 member who works for Danny’s Construction Company, also noted the shape of the stadium made the project unique.

“Having all of those pieces come together and making sure they fit was a challenge, but everything came together perfectly,” Ziegler said.

Ziegler worked on the project for eight months as a crane operator and was a part of setting the structural steel for all of Allianz Field.

Another unique feature of Allianz field is the irrigation system.  There are 192 mature trees planted around the stadium that use the storm water system for irrigation and are among three acres of new public green space and planting that have been added to that area.

Dustin Finn, a 21-year Local 49 member who works for Pete’s Sewer and Water as a loader operator, was a part of working on the intricate irrigation system.

“We did all of the irrigation lines throughout the entire stadium. They pump the water out of storm water holding tanks which goes into the irrigation lines. That system is underneath the parking lots at the stadium,” Finn said.

“There was quite a lot of revisions to the plans, but we got it done on time and it was fun to be a part of,” he added.

The $250 million, 19, 400 seated project spanned over 20 months and went through two tough winters. “We worked

Photo credit: Local 49

through some cold days, but we still managed to finish ahead of schedule, which is always the goal. I was proud to be a part of that,” Ziegler said.

Norm Everson, the Operations Manager for Bolander, also noted the weather being a challenge.

“We had some foundation drilling components, and that was the toughest part of the project was drilling that time of year. We also had to mix water for the grout, and that doesn’t go well when it’s below zero,” Everson said.

Despite the challenges and tight deadlines, Allianz Field was completed on time and more importantly safely with no major incidents and accidents during construction.

“Our number one accomplishment is safety. Stadiums come and go, but the safety of our workers and having no accidents was an accomplishment for all our workers,” Everson said. “I’m very proud of our Superintendent, our Foreman and all our employees who were consistently on the job.”

“All the other trades and contractors working together to make sure the project was completed went great,” Iverson said. “It was also done safely; the job began and was completed without any incidents.”

Allianz Field is yet another landmark project that Local 49 members can take pride knowing that they built another stadium that thousands of people will enjoy for years to come.

“It’s always great to be a part of another landmark in Minnesota. It’s too bad now that everybody’s got a new complex, we’re running out of sports orientated facilities to be a part of,” Ziegler said with a laugh.

“If I go to the game with one of my kids, I get to say I was a part of building this and so I do feel a sense of accomplishment,” Everson said.

For more stories like this visit www.local49.org


April 12, 2019

Judge Lifts Injunction; Work Can Continue on Flood Diversion Project

Judge Lifts Injunction; Work Can Continue on Flood Diversion Project

Original story posted on fmdiversion.com


U.S. District Court Judge John A. Tunheim modified the injunction to allow all requested construction to proceed on the FM Area Diversion Project.

The ruling was made after motions requesting modifications to the September 2017 injunction were filed earlier this year by the Diversion Board of Authority.

The motions to modify the injunction were based on the 2018 permit issued for the project by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The Diversion Authority, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), and the DNR filed briefs supporting building the project due to public safety benefits it can provide. The Richland/Wilkin JPA previously filed briefs opposing commencement of construction.

The Court ruled to allow the Diversion Authority and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to

  • Commence the Public Private Partnership (P3) process for the Diversion Channel and Associated Infrastructure
  • Manufacture components and start construction on the Diversion Inlet Structure
  • Manufacture components and start construction on the Wild Rice River Structure
  • Start construction of the Western Tieback
  • Start non-construction design and mitigation work in North Dakota and Minnesota.

“With the Red River, Sheyenne and Maple Rivers all at flood stage, this is a very welcome ruling for our residents,” Board Chair and Cass County Commissioner Mary Scherling said. “We hope this ruling addresses the concerns expressed by appropriators in Bismarck.”.

“We will comply with all permit requirements and will work together with regulatory entities to ensure this project protects our communities, the environment, and meets all local, state and federal laws,” Scherling said.
“We have been diligently working with the DNR through this process to ensure that Minnesota citizens, its laws, and its environment are adequately protected,” said Kevin Campbell, Vice-Chair of the Diversion Authority and Clay County Commissioner. “Today was another step in the right direction.”

April 10, 2019

Become a Local 49 Steward

Become a Local 49 Steward

Interested in becoming a Local 49 Steward? Attend the Local 49 Steward Training Class!

The Steward training is intended for members employed In the public sector, individual shop, and sand and gravel industries.
The training is not intended for members working under the Builders, Highway and Heavy, or Pipeline agreements; but Local 49 welcomes all members interested in learning how to be an advocate in their workplace

When: Tuesday, April 30 from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Where: Local 49 Minneapolis Hall – 2829 Anthony Lane South Minneapolis, MN 55418

Topics Covered Include:

  • Steward rights, roles and responsibilities
  • How to conduct a grievance investigation
  • Writing and presenting grievances
  • Day-to-day problem solving

Dinner will be provided at the class. To RSVP for the class please e-mail your name and the name of your employer to sstellrecht@local49.org

Please RSVP to the Steward Training Class by Sunday, April 28.

March 21, 2019

Member Story: Second Generation Crane Operator James Halle. Jr.

Member Story: Second Generation Crane Operator James Halle. Jr.

Second generation Local 49 member, James Halle Jr. from New Hope, Minnesota, began his training as a crane operator learning from the best – his father. Halle’s father was a member of Local 49 and a crane operator for 40 years.

“My dad would take me to job sites on weekends, and I was always around cranes so getting into the industry was a natural transition for me,” Halle said.

Halle didn’t always think he would be a crane operator. After graduating high school he went to college to study law enforcement, but quickly realized he belonged back in the seat.

James Halle Jr. Operating on the Washington Ave. Project in Minneapolis

“I always had the natural skill of a crane operator, and I knew a lot of the people in the industry,” he said. “I bounced around a couple companies in my younger years, and built up my own name separate from my dad.”

“A lot of people had high expectations of me to produce good work right off the bat because of my dad,” he added.

Now with 22 years of experience as a crane operator, Halle has worked on major projects such as the Xcel Energy Center, the DECK Center in Duluth, Target Field, and U.S. Bank Stadium.

“I actually got to work with my dad when they were building the Xcel Energy Center so that was a great experience that I’ll never forget,” he said.

Halle said he loves being able to drive anywhere in Minnesota and knowing that he helped build such monumental structures.

“It’s nice to be able to tell my twin boys, ‘Hey look I worked here, and they get see these huge structures that I was a part of creating,” he said.

Halle also has experience on other type of projects and operating different types of cranes. Working for Northwest Tower Crane he was a part of many structural steel jobs such as the new Target office operating a crawler crane and has worked on projects operating a hydro crane. He also has traveled throughout North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa on several wind turbine projects.

“Working on wind towers can be difficult because sometimes you’re getting into these older friction cranes, and you don’t have electronics to tell you how close you are so you have to do the work by feel,” Halle explained. “Your job is also based on how windy it is, because if it’s too windy you can’t work.

Halle continued to explain that with hydro crane you have to be gentle with it because they can move quick, and are slightly more touchy than other types of cranes.

Halle is currently working on the Washington Avenue project in Minneapolis for Frana Companies operating a tower crane. He said that operating a tower crane is a completely different animal.

“I’m taking everything I’ve learned for the past 20 years and pushing it to the side, because sitting in a crane 100 feet off the ground swaying back and forth is so different, but I love it,” he said. “Some days you can be busy all day long and other days you’re just sitting there.”

“You’re also the main crane on the job and you have other trades calling on you,” Halle added. “Tower crane operators are the first ones on the job site, because you have to climb up early in the morning and you’re the last one on the job.”

Halle said that the key to being a crane operator is to never stop learning, and to always pass the knowledge on.

“When I have an oiler that’s new I like teaching them, and until they get in the seat and run the crane they’re not going to learn,” he said. “Pass along the knowledge from the previous generation to the new generation.”

He encourages the younger generation to begin a career as a heavy equipment operator and stresses that going to college isn’t the only option.

“Two years out of high school I made $200,000 and the other kids I graduated with are in debt $200,000 with a four year degree and don’t have a job to show for it,” he said.

Halle says that a career as a crane operator can be stressful, but if you like to constantly be on the go and have each day be different than being a crane operator would be a perfect fit.

“I grew up playing in the sand box, and I’m still playing in the sand box but the toys got bigger and the sand box got bigger,” he said with a laugh

For more stories like James’ visit www.local49.org


March 13, 2019

Order Your Local 49 Gear Online

Order Your Local 49 Gear Online

Order your USA/Union made Local 49 gear online! Free shipping on all orders!

There are a variety of sizes and styles for men and women, and each item can be customized with different Local 49 logos. More clothing items will be added soon!  Click here to order your Local 49 gear now!

See an item we don’t offer, but think we should? Submit your clothing ideas here.

Items cannot be returned if a logo is added to a clothing item. Local 49 is not responsible for any order or shipment errors. Contact Union House for additional questions or concerns at 651-462-7710 or e-mail at max@unionlabel.com Orders placed online normally filled and shipped within ten workdays, delays in shipping due to clothing availability may occur. 

Here are examples of some of the clothing items available. Click here to view more!

February 28, 2019

RSVP to Local 49 Lobby Day

RSVP to Local 49 Lobby Day

Lobby Day will be on Wednesday April 3, 2019 from 9:30 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.

Every member that attends will receive a Local 49 embroidered pullover jacket

CLICK HERE TO RSVP! You Must RSVP by March 29, 2019.

Lobby Day Agenda

9:30 – 10 am: Arrive at Union Hall.
10:00 – 10:45 am: Short introduction and lunch.
10:45 am: Board busses to Capitol.
11:30 am – 3:00 pm: Meet with your legislators (appointments are arranged for you ahead of time).
3:30 – 4 pm: Rally in the Capitol’s Rotunda.
4:15 pm: Busses depart from the Capitol.

Click here for more information

February 28, 2019

Local 49 Supports Bold Transportation Infrastructure Bill

Local 49 Supports Bold Transportation Infrastructure Bill

Today is a historic moment and opportunity for the State of Minnesota. Governor Walz has put forward a budget that invests the money required to rebuild the crumbling infrastructure of our state. This effort will benefit businesses and local communities throughout Minnesota, as well as create thousands of good paying Union construction jobs for families in every corner of our state.

Raising the gasoline tax, tab fees, and motor vehicle sales tax are the only way to put new money into the system that is 100% guaranteed to be used to build infrastructure. The proposed increases are responsible, reasonable, and necessary if we are going to really and finally rebuild our state. We believe taxpayers are willing to pay more to ensure that they have safe roads to travel on, our bridges don’t collapse, and that our people can move around freely in our transit systems.

Governor Walz is leading on this issue. He has put forward an honest proposal, one that doesn’t pretend we can fix our infrastructure without spending money to do so. We stand behind him in this effort, and will be calling on Legislators from both Chambers to find a way to get this done.

Quote from Jason George, Business Manager, IUOE Local 49:

“I understand some of my friends on the Republican side of the aisle are going to have heartburn about this proposal. I challenge them to come to the table, talk to the Governor, and figure out a way to get something impactful done. The time for political talking points is over. This isn’t a time to play to political bases. Our infrastructure is crumbling, money and time is wasted in traffic gridlock, and thousands of construction careers are at stake – the time to do something about this is now.”


Click here to view the press release issued to the media.

Click here to view Governor Walz’s Transportation Infrastructure Plan.

February 19, 2019

Thank You to Public and Private Sector Snow Plow Operators

Thank You to Public and Private Sector Snow Plow Operators

Thank you to the private and public sector snow plow operators for all your efforts to clear our roads and parking lots. You work long hours doing dangerous work all to ensure the safety of others. We are proud to represent these hard working men and women.

“People in our region depend on our public sector snow plow operators to make the way for us to get around as safely as possible during these challenging snow events. We are proud to represent more than 2,000 of these hard working men and women. During the last few weeks of heavy snow, they have put in long hours under dangerous conditions, and they deserve our gratitude and thanks. In addition, I want to thank the private sector snow removal companies that plow our parking lots, many of those people are also members of ours, and they too work long hours and provide a tremendous service in dangerous conditions. If you see these workers out in your community thank them, and when you have the opportunity, support them. They support all of us every day,” said Jason George, Local 49 Business Manager

February 12, 2019

Local 49 Responds to Gov. Walz’s Decision on Enbridge Line 3

Local 49 Responds to Gov. Walz’s Decision on Enbridge Line 3

IUOE Local 49 issued the following press release in response to Governor Walz’s decision to continue the legal challenge of the Enbridge Line 3 Project:

Responsible, large-scale privately funded infrastructure projects don’t happen often and don’t occur overnight. The process to evaluate and vet the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement project was a thorough one that balanced environmental, regulatory, community, and economic concerns. IUOE Local 49 is disappointed in Governor Walz’s decision to challenge the results of this process. However, we are confident that this lawsuit is without merit. This project will be built and the thousands of Union construction workers waiting to get to work will do so later this year.

The timing of this announcement comes as actions of environmental extremist groups plague our state. Just last week, extremists broke into a facility with the intention of shutting down an active pipeline and we received two reports from contractors that their equipment was vandalized because of their work near pipelines. Reasonable people can disagree about important issues, but there is no place for this kind of extremism, and we are concerned that the decision to move forward with this lawsuit will only increase it. IUOE Local 49 stands strong against this violence and cannot support policies that seemingly bow to these tactics.

Jason George, Business Manager of Local 49 released the following statement:

“Governor Walz is our friend and we support him. However, real friends will tell you when they think you are wrong, and on this issue, we have respectfully let the Governor know we strongly disagree with his decision. Continuing this lawsuit is bad public policy and encourages environmental extremism. We cannot support the Governor’s decision, and are disappointed today.”


View the press release here.

February 12, 2019

The Luukkonen Legacy – Three Generations of Local 49 Members

The Luukkonen Legacy – Three Generations of Local 49 Members

Photo (from left) John Luukkonen, Chris Luukkonen, Mike Luukkonen, Rick Luukkonen, Robert Luukkonen, Josh Luukkonen, Tim Luukkonen.


The Luukkonen family out of Virginia, MN can trace their union roots all the way back to the early 1940s. More than 20 family members have been members of Local 49.

John and Mike Luukkonen have each been members of Local 49 for more than 40 years and are the co-founders of the custom crushing and screening company Nothing’s Too Tough (NTT).

“When it comes to crushing, Nothing’s Too Tough, and that’s how it all began,” John said. John’s wife, Patrice, has a more fitting name for the company. “I always said No Time Today,” she said with a laugh.

The Luukkonens know that when you work for a crushing and screening company, you work seven days a week; you’re on call 24/7, and you work all year-round.

“Most of us were taught by our parents how to do this work; it’s always been ‘hey you’re not sitting at home today; you’re coming out to work,’” said Robert Luukkonen, a second generation crusher and 40-year member.

Their job in the mines is to screen pellets to take the fines out of them so that the mines can ship those materials to two different types of steel mills.

“The pellets made high quality steel some of which is used for automobiles, and the fines that we screen out of the pellets would go to make appliance items,” Robert explained.

Josh Luukkonen, Robert’s son, and a five-year member, explained that working year-round and always being on call is one of the toughest parts of the job.

“You could get a call at any moment by the mining companies. If they call at 2:00 a.m. saying they are broken down and need a conveyor to put materials in a plant, you have to go; otherwise they’ll just call someone else,” he said.

Josh explained that on the job site, you are also working in conjunction with the miners, so you have to build those relationships.

“You work side by side with them. Sometimes we have hoppers and conveyors set up into the plant, and the miners feed the hopper, and we would watch the belts and clean up,” Josh explained.

“Other jobs we’d be there screening or crushing, and the miners would be there to pick up what we’re screening and what’s coming off of our conveyors,” he added.

John and Mike started NTT in 1987 with four other partners and became sole owners in 1991.

“Well, you know you go to the bar; and you start talking, and we thought—hey we can do that,” Mike said with a laugh.

“When we first started, it was tough, but it got easier as we became more established, ” Mike added. “We always maintained a high level of work, and our guys always got paid on time.”

Since NTT’s inception, John and Mike made it a priority to keep it a union company.

“With the union, you have the most qualified people,” John said. “We would never hire anyone else because we have high standards. This is a legacy, and we intend to keep it that way.”

John also stated that having the benefits package with Local 49 was a contributing factor to NTT’s long-term success.

“The union offers security, good pay for workers, great benefits, and a great pension. You can’t beat it,” he said.

John and Mike recently sold NTT last year to a new owner, Aaran Leustek. They said that they would have never sold it if the new owner wouldn’t keep their employees and maintain the high standards that NTT has set for the last 30 years.

“We have a good reputation out there, and we wanted to make sure it was going into the hands of someone who would keep it that way,” John said.

While the type of work is tough, the Luukkonens take pride in their long family history in the business and in Local 49. They are even a staple in the northern Minnesota Local 49 summer picnic as the builders of the BBQ grill that is used to cook the food for the picnic.

John and Mike built the grill in 1991, and for more than 25 years, their employees are the ones who cook the food. NTT has also donated dozens of prizes for the event over the years.

(left) Robert and Rick Luukkonen standing with Local 49 Business Agent Dan Snidarich who presented them with their 40 year service pin.

Dan Snidarich, Local 49 Virginia Area Business Agent, spoke highly of the Luukkonen family saying, “They’re good union members, but they’re also just really great people, and their pedigree is at the highest level.”

Chris Luukkonen, who is the second oldest next to John, recently retired and worked 40 years as a 49er in the blacktop industry.

In addition to working on crushers, Ricky Luukkonen worked in the marine division of Local 49 for 20 years.

The Luukkonens will continue the family tradition of being in the crushing business and being proud long-standing members of Local 49.

“This is a legacy. My grandfather was a 49er. My dad is; all of my uncles and cousins are as well so it’s an honor to be a part of something this big and be able to contribute to it,” Josh said.

For more stories like the Luukkonens’, visit www.local49.org




February 5, 2019

Nominate Women Members of Local 49 for Women Building Success Awards

Nominate Women Members of Local 49 for Women Building Success Awards

Do you know an outstanding woman member of Local 49? Nominate them for a Women Building Success Award!

There are three nomination categories: Apprentice of the Year, Journeyworker of the Year and Women’s Advocate of the Year. The nomination deadline is Friday, February 15, 2019. To nominate an outstanding woman member of Local 49 please fill out this form and e-mail it to jenny@mplsbctc.org

Last year Local 49 apprentice Akeethia Brown won the Apprentice of the Year award. We hope another one of our amazing women members win again this year.

The annual Women Building Success event honors outstanding women workers in the local building trades, and celebrates all of the achievements women have made in the industry. The event will be hosted on March 6, 2019 at Surly Brewing Company. Men and women are invited to attend the event. Contact jenny@mplsbctc.org for more information.

February 4, 2019

Dick Ames, Founder of Ames Construction, Passes Away

Dick Ames, Founder of Ames Construction, Passes Away

Dick Ames, a leader in the construction industry and founder of Ames Construction, passed away today at his home. He was 89.

Jason George, Local 49 Business Manager, released the following statement.

“On behalf of the entire membership of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49, I want to express our sincere condolences to the Ames family upon learning of the passing of company founder Dick Ames. We honor and will never forget the commitment and support he demonstrated to his workers, his family, and the entire construction community. Our thoughts are with the Ames family at this time.”

Click here to read the Pioneer Press article about Dick Ames.

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Visitation will be on Thursday, February 7, 2019 from 3:00 – 8:00 PM at Mount Olivet Church – 5025 Knox Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55419.

The service will be held on Friday, February 8, 2019 with visitation at 10:00 AM and the service beginning at 11:00 AM at Mount Olivet Church – 5025 Knox Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55419.

January 30, 2019

Wood Forest Products – A Company with Deep Roots

Wood Forest Products – A Company with Deep Roots

Peter and Vincent “Vinny” Wood are the father and son team behind Wood Forest Products, a logging company headquartered in Northern Minnesota. In 2017 Wood Forest Products became Local 49’s first signatory logging company.

Local 49 petitioned the International Union of Operating Engineers for a separate charter, now known as Local 49 L, to be able to sign Wood Forest Products as a signatory contractor.  This enables members to retain their benefits if they work for a signed logging contractor.

Peter Wood is a third-generation logger. His grandfather homesteaded in Canyon in 1917 and logged in the winter and farmed in the summer.  His dad taught him and his brother John, who also owns his own logging operation and works with his sons, how to work in the woods at an early age. The Wood family still lives on the original homestead.

“It’s not a job, it’s a way of life. I was born into this and I’ve been working out here since I was six years old.”

Similar to the construction industry, those of us in the timber industry know that logging is not for the faint of heart.

“Either you love this or you don’t.  The industry is constantly changing, and you work long hours,” Peter said. “At the same time, you get to work in the woods, where beauty and nature is all around. The job you do maintains the health and beauty of the forest for future generations to enjoy. When you harvest a forest you still have a forest again.”

From the Forest to the Mills

“Our product is in a lot more every day items than most people realize,” Peter said. “It’s not just paper products, it’s used in certain auto parts, home products and even makeup. It is used in so many items. That is why I call it the Hidden Industry.”

The right to harvest timber comes from either private or public landowners.  A harvest plan is determined and a contract is agreed upon before any work begins and just like constructions jobs, there are regulations and deadlines to comply with.

Vinny Wood Operating the Feller Buncher

The trees are first removed with a piece of equipment called a Feller Buncher, which nearly simultaneously cuts and removes the tree. Located on the Feller Buncher is a large circular blade that cuts the tree, and claw-like handles that grab onto the tree to pick it up and place it into piles to be pulled to the landing.

Operating the Feller Buncher is Vinny’s job on the site.

“It’s a complicated piece of equipment because both your hands are operating joy sticks while your thumbs and pointer fingers are pushing buttons that control the functions of the cutting head and arms while your feet are moving both tracks.  This is all happening simultaneously.” Vinny said.

“It’s a lot to do mentally because you’re moving your hands and feet operating the different movements all at the exact same time,” Peter added. “But if you can handle it, it’s actually one of the better jobs on the site, because you are kind of off by yourself enjoying the scenery.”

The trees are pulled to the landing with a skidder where they are

Stacking the logs that are ready to bring to the mills.

sorted, cut, and loaded onto trailers for delivery to mills.  The waste from limbs and branches is chipped and hauled for biomass for electricity.

Joining Local 49

Peter was first interested in joining Local 49 four years ago after learning about the benefits available to Local 49 members and their families through meetings with the Local 49 area business agents and the Associated Contract Loggers and Truckers (ACLT) of Minnesota.

“The benefits of everyone chipping in and we’re all in this boat together, so to speak,” Peter said.  “As the older generation retires, the new generation comes in and we all help each other out in that way.”

The Operating Engineers Local 49 Health Plan was a factor to joining Local 49.

“We’re used to having a $13,000 deductible and paying a $2,000 per month premium,” he added. “This is what really drove me to seriously consider Local 49 and explore what they offer.  Their health insurance is tremendous.”

Peter said he hopes other logging companies will look into the benefits that the Local 49 offers and see if it will work for their business.

Challenges in the Timber Industry 

Scott Dane, the Executive Director of the ACLT, said that logging companies face the challenge of offering competitive wages and benefits to attract and retain employees.

“If we can offer employees competitive wages, health insurance and a retirement package then we can not only start to attract new people in the industry, but also retain them,” Dane said.

For years the construction and logging community have shared operators who worked construction in the summer and logging in the winter.

During the winter months, Dane said that many heavy equipment operators will work for logging companies while they’re laid off, and he hopes that as more logging companies join Local 49 that gap can be bridged.

“As people get laid off and come out to the forest to work they could actually maintain their benefits while they’re working all year long, and I think that could be a great partnership,” Dane said.

Looking to the Future

Vinny cutting the branches in preparation for the wood to be brought to the mills.

While Peter said he doesn’t plan on retiring anytime soon, he still is preparing his son Vinny to take over the family business some day and carry on the legacy.

Just like his dad, Vinny has grown up working out in the forest since he was a child and now at the age of 20 he is learning what it takes to run the family business.

“Vinny had the option of going to college or coming out here and he wanted to be out here,” Peter said. “He started bunching [operating Feller Buncher] for me about a year ago and it’s been working out very well.”

Vinny graduated at the top of his class in 2017, completed post secondary classes while in high school and originally thought about being an engineer but decided his heart was really to work in the woods.


Peter Wood hosts a Podcast called Let the Sawdust Fly. Click here to listen to Jason George, Local 49 Business Manager and area Local 49 Business Agents on his show from Wednesday, Jan. 30. 

Read more stories like Peter and Vinny’s at www.local49.org.

January 30, 2019

Local 49 Member is the First to Graduate from the Jointly Established Apprenticeship Program with the City of Minneapolis and Local 49

Local 49 Member is the First to Graduate from the Jointly Established Apprenticeship Program with the City of Minneapolis and Local 49

Photographed (from left) Scott Kelly, Public Works Training Supervisor for the city of Minneapolis, Hunter Smith, Local 49 Member, Steve Tuhy, Local 49 Training Center Apprenticeship Coordinator, and Cory Bergerson, Local 49 Public Sector Business Agent.


A graduation ceremony was held today for Local 49 member Hunter Smith who became the first graduate of the city of Minneapolis Public Works Service Worker II Apprenticeship Program. This apprenticeship program was jointly established with Local 49 and the city of Minneapolis, and is registered with the Minnesota Apprenticeship Advisory Council.

Robin Hutcheson, the Director of Public Works for the city of Minneapolis, began the ceremony by recognizing Hunter’s achievement, and noted the partnership with labor in making this achievement possible.

“I want to congratulate Hunter by not only graduating, but by being the first. He has shown an investment in himself and that’s extremely impressive,” Hutcheson said. “I also want to recognize, in addition to you (Hunter) wanting to invest in yourself and to grow into a new role, that only in partnership with labor can we make some of these opportunities happen.”

“This is a first for us in leveraging our partnership with labor to advance an employee into a new and better position in the organization, and you (Hunter) are the first beneficiary of that partnership,” she added.

This apprenticeship program is designed as an avenue for Service Worker I employees of the city of Minneapolis Public Works to develop the skills necessary to operate and maintain heavy equipment to move onto the Service Worker II level of employment.

Local 49 Member Hunter Smith

Over the course of this two-year apprenticeship program Hunter was required to log more than 4,000 hours on heavy equipment, and complete 288 hours of classroom training at the Local 49 Training Center. During Hunter’s time at the Training Center he completed courses in confined space entry, HAZMAT, grades and stakes, large and small equipment operation, and he earned his OSHA 10 card.

“I think the best way to become a member of Local 49 is going through the apprenticeship program,” Smith said. “You’re not only earning your way to that title, but the specialized training that is offered is amazing.”

“I was not only able to receive specialized training on how to operate each piece of equipment safely, but then also to go out on the job and utilize that equipment.”

Steve Tuhy, the Apprenticeship Coordinator for the Local 49 Training Center, spoke about Hunter’s accomplishments and how putting in the hard work can pay off.

“Hunter was always looking for the next way to advance his skills and that’s what it takes,” Tuhy said. “In this industry you get out of it what you put into it and Hunter puts 110 percent into his career.”

Cory Bergerson, the Local 49 Business Agent who represents the Public Service Worker II employees for the city of Minneapolis Public Works, spoke about the partnership between the city of Minneapolis and Local 49, and how Hunter is just the first of many to graduate from this apprenticeship program.

“Hunter will be an ambassador to this program for many other apprentices coming down the road by looking to him as a mentor,” Bergerson said.

(from left) Steve Tuhy, Local 49 Training Center Apprenticeship Coordinator, Scott Kelly, Public Works Training Supervisor for the city of Minneapolis, Hunter Smith, Local 49 Member, and Cory Bergerson, Local 49 Public Sector Business Agent.

“The partnership between Local 49 and the city of Minneapolis has been excellent, because this partnership not only allows employees to further their career, but it’s also improving our industry as a whole,” he added.

Scott Kelly, the Public Works Training Supervisor for the city of Minneapolis, was instrumental in developing this apprenticeship program, and said that there will already be two new apprentices entering the program on February 4th, 2019 with the goal to graduate four apprentices a year.

“Hunter has displayed an outstanding initiative and he continues to maintain a high level of efficiency, and he’s also gained the admiration and respect of his fellow employees and supervisors,” Kelly said.

“When I go out to talk to his supervisors and mentors on his crew they always tell me how Hunter digs into the work, takes on the challenges and how he succeeds at overcoming those challenges, and that’s really what this program is all about,” Kelly added.

You can read more stories like Hunter’s at www.local49.org.



January 24, 2019

Proposal Meetings for MN Builders Agreement

Proposal Meetings for MN Builders Agreement

The Minnesota Builders Master Agreement expires at the end of April of 2019. Local 49 will be hosting proposal meetings in Minnesota to hear from members about what issues are important to pursue in negotiations.

Each office will conduct at least one proposal meeting in January or February – you can find the dates and times listed below.

If you can’t make a meeting, you can log into the members only portal of our website and send in your proposal ideas. If you work under the MN Builders Master Agreement we encourage you to make your voice heard.

Metro Area Minneapolis Office – January 23rd and February 20th at 6pm

Bagley Office – January 14th and February 11th at 7pm

Sioux Falls Office – January 10th and February 14th at 7pm

Grand Rapids (Eagles Club) –  February 12th at 6:30pm

Rochester Office – February 28th at 7pm

Mankato Office – January 24th at 7pm

St. Cloud Office – February 7th at 7:30pm

Virginia Office – February 6th at 7:30pm

Duluth Office – February 5th at 7:30pm

January 10, 2019

Minnesota Issues Last of its Major Permits for PolyMet

Minnesota Issues Last of its Major Permits for PolyMet

After more than a decade, the PCA will be issuing the final state permits for PolyMet this morning.

Local 49 Business Manager Jason George released the following statement, “Today’s news is yet another very positive step in the permitting process for the Polymet project. Our members have strongly supported Polymet for more than 10 years, and we are thrilled that the time to get to work building this project is here.”

Click here to view the full press released issued by PolyMet 

December 20, 2018