Local 49 Update to Members on MN Governor’s Executive Order

Local 49 Update to Members on MN Governor’s Executive Order

Members,

Today Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued a stay at home executive order. This order goes into effect Friday, March 27, at 11:59 pm and goes through Friday, April 10, at 5 pm. You can read the entire executive order here. It lays out clearly what people are allowed and not allowed to do.

I can report that the Governor’s executive order has broadly exempted construction workers and that, for the most part, 49ers will stay on the job continuing to provide the critical services that our state needs.

Our members are ready to answer the call of duty and are prepared to stay on the job to continue to perform their critical work in a way that protects themselves and the public and follows CDC health guidelines. There will be many questions about what jobs are included in the exemption, and this will be confusing, chaotic, and could evolve. But for now, here is our initial read of the types of work and workers that will be exempted from this stay at home order.

Our initial read of the exemptions for construction workers is:

  • Workers in skilled trades related to construction of all kinds 
  • Operating Engineers are specifically listed as a critical trade
  • Workers engaged in roadway construction, maintenance, and utility projects
  • Workers performing public works construction, including the construction of critical or strategic infrastructure
  • Construction materials suppliers and workers providing services necessary to maintain construction materials sources
  • Workers supporting building code enforcement
  • Workers performing any construction required in response to COVID-19, including health care facilities and essential businesses and serves
  • Construction required for emergency repairs and safety
  • Critical Labor Functions: Includes labor union essential functions, including health and welfare funds and monitoring safety of members
  • Public works/wastewater government workers
  • Employers servicing equipment necessary for any of these critical tasks

 

Form you should carry that tells authorities you are exempt from the stay at home order

Members can print off this form on our letterhead and show this to law enforcement if you get questioned about being out.

Click here to download and print the form 

 

Changes to Local 49 Offices in MN

  • All Local 49 administrative staff that work in Minnesota offices will be sent home during this two-week stay at home order – we will pay them as normal for these two weeks
  • Because our administrative staff are the ones responsible for collecting dues, we will suspend all monthly window dues collection for the two week period
  • Working dues and dues checkoff will still come in from employers like normal, so this will not be impacted
  • No one will be suspended during this two week period – we are simply freezing things in time
  • This is something that we can do that will cause minimal disruption and will allow those of our staff that work in office settings to stay home to help do our part
  • We will begin collecting window monthly dues again on April 13 – we will do so even if the stay at home order is extended
  • Business Agents will be at all Minnesota offices to answer basic questions over the phone, and dispatch will be open for phone calls and dispatching like they are now
  • Business Agents are still on the job as they are now – they won’t be stopping randomly to check jobs, but they are available to help you via phone/e-mail and will come out to your site if there are specific problems that require that
  • Local 49 Offices will still remain closed to all foot traffic – calls only
  • Wilson McShane offices will remain open, and all health fund operations are as normal

 

Central Pension Fund Update

  • The CPF has had to close down their office because one of their employees was in direct contact with someone who has the coronavirus
  • You can read their statement here about how that is going to impact operations, and they have an FAQ that you can read that is very helpful
  • The bottom line for retirees is you will be getting your money monthly like normal, nothing changes
  • But if you were planning on sending in your paperwork to retire soon check the website to see if there are any impacts to the timing of processing paperwork

 

Congressional/State Action

Congressional action is imminent on an aid package for workers and businesses. It will likely include direct cash payments to workers, and an extension of federal unemployment.

The state of Minnesota Legislature will be meeting tomorrow to pass some coronavirus related items.

We will keep you posted on these developments as they occur.

 

Rules for Employers

  • Our Business Agents continue to be in constant contact with employers regarding how this situation is being handled in the workplace
  • We are gathering information on how the new federal law changes that are coming anytime now will impact employers and workers, and our Business Agents will have the latest information
  • If any member has any concerns about their workplace regarding safety or work rules your employer is implementing call your Business Agent – they are on the job

 

MN Highway Heavy Negotiations Update

We are meeting for the first time to exchange proposals tomorrow, March 26. We are meeting virtually, not in person, because of the ongoing coronavirus situation and the ban on large groups. This will be a challenge, but we will adapt. As things progress, I will have more updates, but I wanted to let members know that negotiations are getting started. The agreement doesn’t expire until May 1. We will keep you posted in the members-only page throughout these negotiations.

 

Lastly

Continue to follow this website, our Facebook page, and your e-mail for updates as this is a rapidly changing situation. I want to tell you I’m proud of all of you and our staff for how we are handling this challenge. 49ers are coming together to get through this. Members have been patient with us as we do the best we can to adapt. Local 49 Business Agents and administrative staff have done an outstanding job putting the membership first and making sure that we continue to serve you through this crisis.

 

There is an old saying – tough times don’t last, tough people do – that’s who we are as 49ers, and I do not doubt that we will come out of this crisis stronger than ever. Hang in there, take care of each other, do your part to help slow this virus, and keep up to date on the latest information.

 

Respectfully,

 

Jason George

Business Manager

 

March 25, 2020

Lobby Day is Canceled

Lobby Day is Canceled

In light of the changing circumstances involving public gatherings, travel recommendations, and the legislature needing to focus all of their energy towards resolving the Covid-19 Pandemic, we are canceling lobby day this year.

Bringing together people from across the state is normally a great way to show legislators that our members live and work in every district. However, at this time, with several legislators having confirmed Covid-19 cases, we believe that it is in the best interest of our member’s health, and the health of all Minnesotan’s to cancel lobby day this year. If you have any questions about why lobby day is canceled, please contact Kipp Hanson at 612-391-7176.

March 20, 2020

Important Message from Business Manager Jason George on Local 49 Response to Coronavirus Situation

Important Message from Business Manager Jason George on Local 49 Response to Coronavirus Situation

All of us are dealing with the situation related to the Corona Virus. Last week we put plans in place for a phased response as conditions and guidance from the health department changed. We sent a note last week implementing phase 1 of our plan. This weekend things have changed, and new recommendations were released from the Centers for Disease Control and the MN Department of Health calling for increased restrictions of group meetings.

In keeping with our plans to do all that we can to help slow the spread of the virus and keep you and our staff safe, we are moving ahead with phase 2 of our plan. We are going to take action to limit meetings, gatherings, and interactions as recommended by the health care professionals.

Here is what we are doing:

  • The Training Center in Hinckley has suspended the training schedule/operations for two weeks effective today – members scheduled for classes will be notified – as of now the training schedule is set to resume on March 30th but please pay attention to our emails and be checking our website in case that changes.
  • The Minneapolis Union meeting on Wednesday March 18th will take place, but with the following restrictions:
    • The meeting will only consist of executive board business, paying the bills.
    • All other reports and business will be suspended. There will be no drawings either.
    • We expect the meeting to last 10 minutes to conduct routine financial business and then adjourn.
    • Members are encouraged NOT to attend; we will have some BA’s on hand to help move the business, but we need to keep the gathering small as recommended by the health professionals.
    • We will take minutes of this meeting, and they will be posted as soon as possible in the members only section of the website so members can see what official business was done.
    • Limiting the meeting length and attendance will help keep people safe, and other trades and IUOE Locals are also taking similar precautions. This shortened meeting is within the rules set out in the bylaws.
  • All other Local 49 area union meetings in our jurisdiction are suspended in March – we will send out another communication toward the end of this month about April, so pay attention to our emails and our website.
  • Local 49 will be open for business via phone and email only – all walk up service will be suspended – please do not stop by the union halls for business, you will need to call to pay your dues or for any other business you have – we will let you know when this changes and things are back to normal.
  • Administrative staff will be working and will be answering phones – we are simply limiting in person contact to protect them and you.
  • BA’s will be working as well, and you should call them as normal with any issues. BA’s will most likely not be in the union hall so don’t stop in there to see them, no one will be admitted.
  • If you have proposal meetings, contract votes or other business check with your BA on how those meetings will be handled.
  • If you have questions about what your workplace is doing about this, members should ask their employers – if there are concerns or problems call your business agent and we will help address
  • North Dakota members should go to this website to learn more: https://www.health.nd.gov/diseases-conditions/coronavirus
  • South Dakota members should go to this website to learn more: https://doh.sd.gov/news/Coronavirus.aspx
  • Minnesota members should check out the MN Building Trades website which has gathered contact info for all the relevant state agencies:  https://mntrades.org/covid-19-resources/

This is an evolving situation, but we are prepared with plans in place. We will follow the guidance of public health agencies and do our part to help slow the spread of the virus to help protect those most vulnerable. We will get through it and this too shall pass. Please understand we are trying to do the right thing to protect members, families, and staff. We ask for your patience as we work through this together. As of today, we are not hearing of any jobsite closures or layoffs and we hope that remains the case. We are prepared if those things start occurring.

Please continue to stay informed by following our emails and website.

Respectfully,

Jason George

Business Manager

March 16, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

Local 49 has been continuously monitoring all ongoing developments and updates relating to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.  The health, safety, and well-being of all Local 49 members, employees, and their families is our primary concern, and as such, we are dedicated to taking all reasonable and necessary measures to support and protect you.

We will continue to vigilantly monitor and evaluate this situation on a daily basis. In the event that new and/or updated recommendations we will post changes to our policy on the website and email it, so please make sure to check these regularly.

Here is what to know now:

  • All training classes and/or regular operations at the International Training and Education Center (“ITEC”) in Texas will be temporarily suspended, effective at the close of business on Friday, March 13, 2020, to allow for the entire premises to be thoroughly cleaned.  Barring extenuating circumstances, the ITEC will reopen and all training classes and regular operations will resume on Monday, March 30, 2020.
  • Any travel arrangements booked by the IUOE Travel Coordinators for flights occurring during the period of March 14th through March 30th will be canceled and/or rebooked accordingly.  No further action on members’ part is required with respect to any flights that were scheduled to take place during this time period.
  • Local 49 Training Schedule in Hinckley will go on as scheduled as of today – the MN Department of Health has not as of right now advised canceling all group meetings. This could change so you want to stay vigilant. If any member has symptoms they should not go to training, and they will be refunded in full. Use your judgment, and be cautious.
  • As of right now, all union meetings and activities will go on as scheduled – again – the MN Department of Health as of right now has not advised the canceling of group meetings.
  • If you are sick or have any symptoms of the virus please do not attend union meetings and do not come to our offices – again use your judgment, be cautious and be mindful of others.
  • If members have questions about what is happening in their own workplaces they should contact their employers, and if they run into problems, call their business agent.

At this stage of the outbreak in the United States, it is best to stay informed and be prepared. Please be advised that important information related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) has been published by the CDC and may be found on their website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing.  For travelers, please see CDC specific guidance for travelers.

This is a rapidly developing situation, we might need to cancel events or meetings or activities on short notice – please pay attention to your emails and our website for the latest information. We are taking this situation seriously, we recommend you stay informed. Use your common sense and stay informed.

Respectfully,

Jason George
Business Manager

March 12, 2020

U.S. Department of Labor Exempts Construction Industry from IRAP Expansion

U.S. Department of Labor Exempts Construction Industry from IRAP Expansion

The U.S. Department of Labor today published a final rule regarding establishing a system for advancing the development of Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs). The final rule excluded the construction industry from the IRAP program, which is a tremendous win for the building trades.

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

“A few months back we asked members to submit comments opposing an effort by non-union contractor associations to expand government sponsored apprenticeship programs called IRAPs to the construction industry.
We opposed this initiative because the union/management apprenticeship model is the gold standard in apprenticeship and has produced the most skilled construction workers in the world. Workers and management under our model pay for training ourselves and we ensure that apprentices earn a good wage while they learn. Non-union employers were looking to use IRAPs to have taxpayers pay for their programs and pay apprentices rock bottom wages which would have undermined our successful programs.
I’m happy to report that the US Department of Labor has ruled today to exempt construction from the expansion of IRAPs. This is an acknowledgement that our model works, and nothing should be done to undermine it.
I want to thank the hundreds of thousands of tradesmen and women who sent in comments supporting our position, including the close to 1000 Local 49 members who did this.  You all made the difference.I also want to thank republican and democratic elected officials, including all MN leaders from both parties and the entire Congressional delegation for sending in a letter supporting our position. Finally, I’d like to thank General President James Callahan and the entire IUOE for their leadership on this effort.
We are proud to be a union that is non-partisan, and this victory is a great example of the power of that approach. We will stay vigilant against any future attacks on our apprenticeship program or our union. As always we will keep you informed.”

The U.S. Department of Labor also issued the following statement regarding the ruling. 

March 10, 2020

Local 49 Was Represented at The United States Capitol

Local 49 Was Represented at The United States Capitol

Local 49 was represented at the United States Capitol in February as Local 49 Apprentice Mahaila Houle attended the State of the Union hosted on February 4. Mahaila was invited to participate in this prestigious event by Congressman Pete Stauber from the 8th District of Northern, MN, who wanted to bring a Local 49 member as his guest. Congressman Stauber highlighted the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project and talk about the opportunities that it will provide to young workers, such as Mahaila.

Mahaila is from the Duluth area and became interested in construction after she joined the Tribal Equal Rights Opportunity (TERO) program, which connected her with the Local 49 Training Center. Houle was one of five students selected into the TERO program for the Local 49 Training Center.

“I previously had no experience with operating heavy equipment, and it was very intimidating considering how green I was, but I was ready to learn and take in as much as I possibly could,” Houle said.

Soon after, she was accepted into the apprenticeship program and is currently working for Northland Constructors. Throughout Houle’s early career as an operator, she has already worked on notable projects such as the Superior Street and Essentia projects in Duluth as well as several road and bridge projects.

“At first, I thought I would want to go into the crane apprenticeship program, but as I took more classes, I gravitated toward excavators, backhoes, and rollers, so I think I’m going to stick with pipeline or highway heavy work,” she said.

As far as being selected to attend the State of the Union with Congressman Stauber, Houle said she was shocked, but excited that she is getting this opportunity.

“I asked my apprenticeship coordinator – Steve Tuhy – why I got selected, and he said that it was my attitude and work ethic. I appreciated hearing that because I do try and help out my fellow apprentices and others who are interested in the apprenticeship program,” Houle said.

Houle spent two days in Washington, D.C. as part of the event where she was able to meet and speak with representatives about the work that she does and how it’s important to provide young workers the opportunity to work on significant projects, such as Line 3. She was also able to sit and listen to the President’s State of the Union address in person.

“It was all so fascinating, once the state of the union started you couldn’t leave the room and we listened to the President speak,” she said. “I personally enjoyed the energy of the room and it was interesting because they didn’t show half of what I saw on television. It was an amazing experience.”

“I really enjoyed representing Local 49 and the Local 49 Training Center. I talked about what kind of workers we need and why it’s so important to have a skilled workforce. I met so many people, and I was just happy to be a part of history – this was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she added.

For more stories like Mahaila’s visit www.local49.org.

February 27, 2020

Dependent Audit Verification

Dependent Audit Verification

All Participants with Dependents enrolled in the Plan should have received a letter from HMS regarding the dependent audit that the Operating Engineers Local 49 Health and Welfare Fund is performing. Below are some quick facts about the dependent audit. Click here for more information. 

What is a dependent audit?
• A dependent audit verifies that the dependents on the health plan are, in fact, eligible to receive health care benefits.

Why are we doing a dependent audit?
• Performing a dependent audit will ensure that the Health Fund isn’t paying for participants that aren’t eligible to receive coverage, which will save you and the Health Fund money.

February 24, 2020

Second Generation Local 49 Member Started as Apprentice and is now a Crane Operator

Second Generation Local 49 Member Started as Apprentice and is now a Crane Operator

Second generation Local 49 member, Mitch Asfeld, began as a Local 49 apprentice and is now a crane operator and has worked on some of the most recent notable projects.

After graduating high school, Asfeld tried attending college but shortly realized that wasn’t the path for him.

“I went to college for about a semester and realized it just wasn’t for me, and I knew that working in construction was the right choice for me,” he said.

Asfeld began in the Local 49 apprenticeship program and also began working for Lunda Construction and started as an oiler on one of the most recent high-profile projects.

“I started on the Stillwater Bridge, which looking back on it, it was a very complicated project, and I didn’t appreciate back then as much as I do now. It was my first project, and I had never worked on any other bridge before that,” Asfeld said.

Asfeld worked on the Stillwater Bridge project for two years and since then worked his way up to becoming a crane operator. Now, he has been a member of Local 49 for five years and has worked on various projects all over South Dakota and Minnesota.

“There was definitely a learning curve becoming a crane operator, but I had another operator help me and taught me pretty much everything I know,” Asfeld said. “It’s helpful having someone there to help guide you.”

Asfeld had another critical influence in his life to help him along the way throughout his construction career – his father Ken Asfeld.

“My dad has been an operator for 30 years and currently works for Kuechle Underground. My dad was definitely an influence on me, and when I was younger, he would always tell me that if I wanted to get into construction, then I need to join Local 49,” Asfeld said.

Now being a more experienced operator, Asfeld said that he is spreading the same message to his other family members.

“I have a younger cousin who is thinking about getting into the industry after high school, and I tell him to make sure he gets in with the 49ers and start with the Training Center,” he said. “Even if someone doesn’t know which direction they want to go within this industry, I always say go up to the Training Center and start running things to see what you like the most.”

“When I was at the Training Center, I enjoyed taking the different classes and operating as much as I could. Becoming a member of Local 49 was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

For more stories like Mitch’s visit www.local49.org

February 18, 2020

Local 49 Endorses Congressman Pete Stauber for Re-Election to Minnesota’s 8th District

Local 49 Endorses Congressman Pete Stauber for Re-Election to Minnesota’s 8th District

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 is proud to endorse Congressman Pete Stauber for re-election to Minnesota’s 8th District. Local 49 announced the endorsement during a press conference today at the Duluth Seaway Port Authority and Lake Superior Warehouse in Duluth, MN.

Stauber has been a supporter of unions and blue-collar workers his entire adult life. As a 22-year Duluth police officer, he was a loyal member of Law Enforcement Labor Service Local 363. As a City Councilor in Hermantown and then Saint Louis County Commissioner, he worked tirelessly to move projects forward that created thousands of jobs for union construction workers. These jobs support families, come with quality family health insurance, and the retirement security of a pension in an area where Local 49’s membership is strong.

Local 49 Business Manager Jason George released the following statement:

“I am proud to stand with Congressman Stauber and strongly endorse his re-election. Pete has been a champion for projects that will provide good paying union construction jobs. Line 3 replacement, iron ore mining, logging, PolyMet, Twin Metals and transportation infrastructure funding are his priority and they are our priorities too. These are the jobs that we need in this state, and there has been no one that has fought harder to bring them to the 8th district than Congressman Stauber. Local 49 is proud to be a union that works to build relationships on both sides of the political aisle. Job creation and the support of Davis-Bacon prevailing wage and opposition to Right to Work policies are our priorities. Congressman Stauber supports us on these items and has taken the votes to prove it. We look forward to helping return him to office in November.”

Local 49 looks forward to helping Congressman Stauber promote his campaign, his accomplishments, and his vision for Minnesota’s 8th district.

 

February 14, 2020

Local 49 Apprentice Attended State of the Union Address

Local 49 Apprentice Attended State of the Union Address

Local 49 was represented at the United States Capitol in February as Local 49 Apprentice Mahaila Houle attended the State of the Union hosted on February 4. Mahaila was invited to participate in this prestigious event by Congressman Pete Stauber from the 8th District of Northern, MN, who wanted to bring a Local 49 member as his guest. Congressman Stauber highlighted the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project and talked about the opportunities that it will provide to young workers, such as Mahaila.

Mahaila is from the Duluth area and became interested in construction after she joined the Tribal Equal Rights Opportunity (TERO) program, which connected her with the Local 49 Training Center. Houle was one of five students selected into the TERO program for the Local 49 Training Center.

“I previously had no experience with operating heavy equipment, and it was very intimidating considering how green I was, but I was ready to learn and take in as much as I possibly could,” Houle said.

Soon after, she was accepted into the apprenticeship program and is currently working for Northland Constructors. Throughout Houle’s early career as an operator, she has already worked on notable projects such as the Superior Street and Essentia projects in Duluth as well as several road and bridge projects.

“At first, I thought I would want to go into the crane apprenticeship program, but as I took more classes, I gravitated toward excavators, backhoes, and rollers, so I think I’m going to stick with pipeline or highway heavy work,” she said.

When she was selected to attend the State of the Union with Congressman Stauber, Houle said she was shocked, but excited that she was able to participate in this opportunity.

“I asked my apprenticeship coordinator why I got selected, and he said that it was my attitude and work ethic. I appreciated hearing that because I do try and help out my fellow apprentices and others who are interested in the apprenticeship program,” Houle said.

Houle spent two days in Washington, D.C. as part of the event where she was able to meet and speak with representatives about the work that she does and how it’s important to provide young workers the opportunity to work on significant projects, such as Line 3.

“I really enjoyed representing Local 49 and the Local 49 Training Center. I talked about what kind of workers we need and why it’s so important to have a skilled workforce. I met so many people, and I was just happy to be a part of history – this was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she added.

Houle was also able to able to sit and listen to the President’s State of the Union Address in person.

“It was all so fascinating, once the state of the union started you couldn’t leave the room and we listened to the President speak,” she said. “I personally enjoyed the energy of the room and it was interesting because they didn’t show half of what I saw on television.”

“I really want to thank Congressman Stauber for inviting me to participate in this experience and I thank Local 49 and the Local 49 Training Center for encouraging me and helping me along the way,” she said.

For more stories like Mahaila’s visit www.local49.org.

 

 

February 14, 2020

Local 49 Business Manager Testifies at Energy and Mineral Resources Legislative Hearing

Local 49 Business Manager Testifies at Energy and Mineral Resources Legislative Hearing

WASHINGTON – Today, House Committee on Natural Resources Republicans joined a bipartisan roundtable titled “Securing Minnesota’s Future: Defending our Forests, Economy, and Way of Life.” The forum included invited participants from local organizations and elected officials who oppose the recently introduced legislation H.R. 5598 by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.). The bill seeks to abolish critical mineral development in the state and directly threatens 2,000 jobs. Below is what they are saying:

“Betty McCollum is once again demonstrating her desire to kill opportunity in northeast Minnesota without any regard for the family’s that live there. Let’s be clear, Betty does not represent the people of our district.  If Betty truly cared about the environment and the rights of workers she would support a stringent process in a country that ensures both.  We live in a global economy and we also live in a global environment.” Hon. Dave Lislegard, Democrat from Minnesota House of Representatives

“Rep. McCollum’s St. Paul/Minneapolis district residents enjoy annual average incomes in excess of $10,000 more per year than those who live on the Iron Range. McCollum’s bill kills the potential for economic opportunities in a region that is hungry for family sustaining jobs. Jobs For Minnesotans has always stood for a science-based, transparent, and predictable regulatory process for mining projects and believes we can do mining while protecting the environment.” – Nancy Norr, Chairperson, Jobs For Minnesotans

“With today’s forum, the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Western Caucus have brought attention to an issue that remains incredibly important to us.  Thousands of our members earn their living by providing construction and maintenance services to the mining industry.  These carpenters and millwrights are highly-skilled professionals who put safety above all else.  They are well-equipped to help ensure that modern copper-nickel mines are built to exacting standards that provide needed resources to our society while also safeguarding the communities nearby that they call home.” – Kyle Makarios, United Brotherhood of Carpenters

“H.R. 5598 is a job killing proposal, plain and simple. This bill bans mining before a specific project can even be studied. The people that live in the area should have the right to decide for themselves whether these projects make sense, and should not arbitrarily be denied economic opportunity because powerful big city interests have decided the people in Northeastern Minnesota don’t deserve that chance.”– Jason George, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49

“Rep. McCollum is effectively locking the United States out of the nickel industry and handing it over to foreign countries like China.  In Minnesota, her bill would deprive school children of billions of dollars in mining royalties to the Permanent School Trust Fund that helps every school district across the State.” – Frank Ongaro, Mining Minnesota

““We are encouraged by the strong support of our neighbors, small businesses, union workers and local community leaders for the Twin Metals project to move forward and be evaluated based on the best  science and regulatory process available. In December, we submitted our mine plan to state and federal agencies, which provides critical details and represents more than a decade of work by our team members.  We look forward to robust engagement with stakeholders including federal, tribal and state governments along with extensive public dialogue on the benefits of this project.  We believe modern mining technology will provide essential mineral resources for advancing the green economy while protecting our precious Minnesota environment.  Our commitment to invest more than $1 billion and the creation of thousands of jobs in the Iron Range rests with the fair and transparent consideration of this important project.”

Julie Padilla, Twin Metals Minnesota

The United States is becoming increasingly dependent upon foreign sources for critical and strategic minerals.  Why?  In part, because we unnecessarily restrict access to our domestic mineral resources.  H.R. 5598 is simply unnecessary.  The Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Forest Management Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, Forest Service surface management regulations and policies, State of Minnesota environmental laws and regulations, as well as financial assurance requirements are in place and designed to protect the environment and important resources. We need to trust the process.” Mark Compton, American Exploration & Mining Association

“The National Mining Association strongly opposes H.R. 5598, introduced by Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-04). This legislation, which is little more than a politically motivated mineral withdrawal that flies in the face of due process, is precisely why U.S. mineral import reliance has reached alarming levels.  The nation needs greater access to the minerals and metals that are the foundation for our manufacturing, infrastructure, defense and clean energy supply chains, not less. The U.S. has world-class environmental standards that ensure we need not choose between mining and environmental protection. The people of Northern Minnesota who strongly support the Twin Metals project deserve a complete environmental review that weighs the project on its merits.” Katie Sweeney, National Mining Association

February 5, 2020

Minnesota Regulators Vote to Approve Enbridge Line 3 Project

Minnesota Regulators Vote to Approve Enbridge Line 3 Project

Yesterday, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the Revised Environmental Impact Statement, the Certificate of Need, and the Route Permit for Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project. The Project has been moving through the Regulatory Process for the past five years. The $2.6 billion project is privately funded and will put hundreds of our members to work.
Local 49 Political Organizer Kipp Hanson said, “Line 3 is the most thoroughly studied pipeline project in Minnesota’s history. The hard work that the PUC,  Enbridge, and the trades have dedicated to the project mean that it will be built to the highest standards in the world, and the professional workforce that Local 49 and the other trades bring to the table will ensure that it is built safely and professionally.”
There is no date as of yet for when the project will begin construction.

February 4, 2020

Local 49 Member Joe Abeyta is Running for State Representative for District 5B

Local 49 Member Joe Abeyta is Running for State Representative for District 5B

Joe Abeyta, an eight-year member of Local 49, is running for State Representative for District 5B, which covers most of Itasca County as well as a portion of Cass County.

Joe is a proud northern Minnesotan who moved to Grand Rapids in 2009 after 25 years in Arizona and a deployment in Iraq as he also served ten years in the Arizona Army National Guard.

Joe has been working in the construction industry for most of his life, but it wasn’t until 2012 when he finally joined Local 49.

“Coming from Arizona, I wasn’t familiar with unions, but after I started working for Magnetation I began to see the benefits, wages, job protections, safety standards, and retirement options that Local 49 provided. From then on, I was never going to work non-union again,” Abeyta said.

“When I got into the mining industry and began operating more equipment, I fell in love with what I was doing, and I felt good at the end of the day knowing that I’m making a difference in people’s lives,” he added.

Currently, Joe works for KTM Pavement and will soon have to balance between working full time as an operator and hitting the campaign trail.

“I became interested in running for office after spending time at the Capitol for Lobby Day with Local 49, and myself, along with 15 other 49ers, we met with our representative to talk to her about getting funding for transportation. She told us that nothing is going to change, and the funding they had in the past has been working. I just found that unacceptable.”

“Also, after talking to community members in our district, there is a lot of discontent for our current representative. There is a real need for someone to start speaking on behalf of the people of the district, and I’m in a position to do that.”

Abeyta also serves as a city council member for the city of LaPrairie and, over time, has seen what the real needs are of his local community and district.

“Continuing to increase transportation funding is crucial. Our community is continuously put at the bottom of MNDOT’s priority list, and a lot of that has to do with that with our lack of representation. Education is also a huge subject for me. Educators up here are voicing their concerns about legislative processes and the wrongdoing that has happened over the last several years that have hurt educators and their ability to teach. I also am focusing on economic development.

Abeyta has been hitting the campaign trail hard over the winter and says the momentum will continue even while he’s working.

“My biggest challenge will be balancing work and campaigning, but my family has been supportive, and ultimately that’s why I’m running is to secure a future for my kids. My employer has also been very supportive, and so that helps a lot.”

Abeyta says that his involvement with Local 49 has also given him a tremendous amount of support and confidence to run.

“Jason George and Julia Donnelly are the two biggest reasons why I even think I can do this. When they were our political directors, I worked with them through the Magnetation contract issues, and the confidence they have given me in myself was remarkable. If not for those two, I don’t think I could do this. They have given me the tools to legislate and advocate for myself and others.”

The campaigning has only begun, but Abeyta says he’s ready and willing to have those tough conversations to ensure he serves the needs of everyone in his district.

“I’m excited to be running, and I’m encouraged by the amount of support I’ve had to run for this seat. Whether someone’s a republican or democrat, I want to have that conversation about what we need to do to progress. Doing nothing is not the answer.”

Members can donate to Joe Abeyta’s campaign by contacting either Joe Abeyta at joeabeyta@hotmail.com or  Local 49 Political Organizer Kipp Hanson at 612-391-7176 or e-mail at khanson@local49.org

January 20, 2020

Local 49 Responds to Teamsters Local 320 Strike in St. Louis County

Local 49 Responds to Teamsters Local 320 Strike in St. Louis County

Local 49 Business Manager, Jason George, released the following statement in response to Teamsters Local 320 strike in St. Louis County.
 
“Local 49 supports the Teamsters in St Louis County. County workers perform critical services for our communities and they deserve respect. We represent 2500 of these hard-working men and women and we stand in solidarity with our fellow workers in this fight. We will be reaching out to offer financial assistance, and we encourage the St Louis County Board to step in and settle this strike.”
 
Members can contact Teamsters Local 320 and express their support at (800) 637-5430. Click here to read the full article 

January 16, 2020

Local 49 Responds to the Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision on PolyMet

Local 49 Responds to the Minnesota Court of Appeals Decision on PolyMet

Today, the Minnesota Court of Appeals decided to remand the PolyMet permit to mine and dam safety permits back to the Department of Natural Resources for a contested case hearing. This will not only further delay the PolyMet project, but the Court’s decision to make up its’ own permitting process could have a chilling effect on future investment by businesses looking to expand in Minnesota. Minnesota workers are reliant upon businesses that build projects here, and today, with this decision, the MN Court of Appeals has created an uncertain permitting process that will cause businesses to possibly look elsewhere.

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

“I am not only extremely disappointed by the Court’s decision, but I am deeply concerned about the uncertainty of our permitting process. The PolyMet project has gone through 15 years of exhaustive study and scrutiny by Minnesota’s state agency experts and met or exceeded every environmental standard in law.

The fact the entire process and all this work can be thrown out today by three judges who spent a few months on this case is alarming. This is a bad decision, but the PolyMet project will go forward. The future of northeastern Minnesota depends on it, and we will never give up on them.”

The MN DNR did their jobs well and followed the law, Local 49 is strongly urging them to appeal this decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

 

January 13, 2020

Switching from Non-Union to Union Has Changed This New Local 49 Member’s Life

Switching from Non-Union to Union Has Changed This New Local 49 Member’s Life

Damien Dimberio worked most of his career as a non-union heavy equipment operator until one day he took a leap of faith and joined Local 49 – with a little help from his new business agent. He now says, “joining Local 49 has completely changed my life, and I can’t ever see working non-union again.”

Dimberio was born in Virginia, Minnesota and grew up with his dad working in the mines and was around the industry is whole life. He originally got into the construction business after a few friends started their own company, and he began to work for them.

“It was mostly a home remodeling company, and I did some roof work until one day they just threw me on a piece of equipment, and I hit the ground running from there,” Dimberio said.

Dimberio started operating forklifts and eventually worked his way to operating potain cranes. Dimberio spent most of his career as a non-union crane operator until one day, the Local 49 Northwest Metro Area Business Agent, Nate Sogge, stopped by his job site.

“God bless Nate for driving past the job site I was working at. It’s hard for me to think about not working union because of the great things that they provide with the benefits and health insurance…It’s huge for me,” he said.

While Dimberio is grateful that he’s a member now, he says at first, he was a little skeptical.

“Honestly, it just sounded too good to be true, and I didn’t know whether or not to believe him, but Nate kept talking to me and even pointed me in the direction of more people to talk to, and by that point, it was a no brainer to join,” he said.

Dimberio is coming up on his first full year of being a member of Local 49 and is currently working for Carpentry Builders Inc., operating a potain crane.

“Right now, we’re working on the Park Seven project in downtown Minneapolis. We do commercial wood framing, and we pretty much work all year round. My job is kind of like working with one big puzzle and putting all the pieces together. All of the materials from the truck to the building get moved by me,” Dimberio said.

Dimberio said that he even notices a difference in working on an all-union job sites versus non-union.

“You can tell that they care more about their jobs, and I think it’s because when you give people things that help them provide for their family, it makes you care that much more,” he said.

His advice to other non-union workers who are skeptical about making the switch is, “take the leap of faith.”

“There’s no one else that’s going to provide you a future beyond just working day to day and provide a future for your family,” he said.

For more stories like Damien’s visit www.local49.org.

 

January 10, 2020

Local 49 Signs Letter in Support of Twin Metals Minnesota Entering the Regulatory Process

Local 49 Signs Letter in Support of Twin Metals Minnesota Entering the Regulatory Process

With the filing of its Scoping Environmental Assessment Worksheet data submittal, the Twin Metals Minnesota copper-nickel mine project has entered Minnesota’s environmental review process. This is a long-awaited milestone for the project and represents more than a decade of work to determine the most responsible path forward to mine critical minerals. Click here to read the full letter of support. 

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

“We celebrate the start of the permitting process with today’s mine plan submittal by Twin Metals. Local 49 has always supported mining projects, and advocated for a fair and just approval process that ensures a safe project, protects our environment while allowing companies to create good paying union jobs. Twin Metals has signed a Project Labor Agreement with the trades, meaning 100% of the millions of work hours it will take to build this mine will be done by 49ers and other members of the building trades. Congratulations to Twin Metals, and we look forward to participating in this process as it moves forward. We are very proud to stand with the Iron Range to fight for a bright future with good paying mining jobs.”

December 18, 2019

Local 49 Signs Major Agreement for Line 3 Replacement Project

Local 49 Signs Major Agreement for Line 3 Replacement Project

The Enbridge Line 3 Replacement project has reached a significant milestone today as a project labor agreement was signed between Enbridge and the union trades that will build the project. This agreement establishes that the 4,200 construction jobs on the Line 3 project will be entirely union. Ensuring that Line 3 is completed by union labor will mean that this project will be accomplished safely and will use the highest level of industry standards.

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 and its more than 14,000 members have continuously supported and fought for the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement project for many years. Replacing an aging pipeline with a new one will help protect the environment and create good-paying union jobs. Local 49 is proud that the skilled craftsmanship and commitment of our members to fight for this project has been recognized with the signing of this agreement today.

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

“The signing of this project labor agreement speaks volumes to the commitment to safety and quality that Enbridge has for this project. Ensuring that the Line 3 Replacement will be completed by union labor means that the job will not only be done correctly, but it will be done safely. I’m also proud to say that our members have fought tirelessly for several years for this important project and that their hard work and dedication have been recognized today. I want to thank Enbridge and the contractors who will be working on this project for their partnership. Our members are looking forward to getting to work next year.”

 

December 3, 2019

Two Harbors High School Student Job Shadows at Local 49 Training Center

Two Harbors High School Student Job Shadows at Local 49 Training Center

Leah Christensen, a junior at Two Harbors High School, job shadowed today at the Local 49 Training Center, and at some prominent job sites in the Duluth area. The job shadow is part of a career readiness class that she is currently taking.

Leah was first exposed to equipment on her grandparent’s farm, and her father is also in the construction industry. However, she became interested in being a union heavy equipment operator when she visited the Local 49 Training Center Trailer at the Minnesota State Fair.

“I was walking through the education building at the state fair, and I saw the trailer and was interested,” Leah said. “I spoke with someone about the apprenticeship program and from there did my own research, and that’s how I got interested in the industry and wanting to do a job shadow here.”

Leah was able to tour the Training Center facility with Local 49 Apprenticeship Coordinator Steve Tuhy and learn about the different apprenticeship programs and the different career paths the industry has to offer. She was even able to jump in some equipment and try her hand at operating.

“Before I came here today, I didn’t have a particular preference on which apprenticeship program I wanted to enter. After getting to operate the crane a little today, I think I’m leaning toward cranes, but I still want to learn any piece of equipment I can so that I am more employable to contractors. “

Leah also toured the Essentia job site and the Superior Street job site in Duluth to get a real sense of what a job site looks like, and what she could potentially be doing in her future career.

“It was a great experience overall,” Leah said.

If any high school student is interested in more information about the apprenticeship program, please contact the Local 49 Training Center at 320-384-7093.

November 22, 2019