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

IUOE General President James Callahan expresses strong support for pipeline safety measures

IUOE General President James Callahan expresses strong support for pipeline safety measures

Photo credit: Enbridge


IUOE General President James Callahan recently co-wrote an op-ed piece about pipeline safety that was published online.

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

“I thank General President Callahan for strongly supporting measures that will help protect pipeline construction workers. Operating Engineers that build critical pipeline infrastructure deserve to be safe on the job. People should have the freedom to protest and oppose pipelines, but they do not have the right to violate the law or harm workers in order to stop projects once they are approved. We worked on passing a law in Minnesota to enhance penalties for protestors that violate the law, the Minnesota House blocked that proposal last year. Wisconsin just signed into law a similar proposal. We look forward to bringing it back and working to convince Minnesota legislators that this is the right thing to do next session.”

Click here to read the piece. 

November 22, 2019

Redevelopment of the former Ford plant would bring 14,500 construction jobs

Redevelopment of the former Ford plant would bring 14,500 construction jobs

Photo credit by Ryan Companies

The city of St. Paul and Ryan Companies announced today during a press conference that they have reached a deal to redevelop the former Ford Motor Company assembly plant in St. Paul.

This redevelopment will bring 3,800 units of housing, 265,000 square feet of office space, 150,000 square feet of retail space, the largest solar array in the state, and 100 percent renewable energy to the now empty Ford Motors site in Highland Park, pending city council approval. If approved, this project would create 14,500 construction jobs, and construction would potentially begin in the spring. The infrastructure on the site will mostly be developed within five years.

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

“The redevelopment of the former Ford Motors plant has been in the making for nearly a decade, and Local 49 is proud that our members will soon be part of yet another monumental project within the city of St. Paul. Local 49 congratulates Ryan Companies, Mayor Carter and other city leaders on reaching a deal. This project will create a lot of good paying union construction jobs which will contribute significantly to the local and regional economy.”


November 12, 2019

School Levy and Bond Elections

School Levy and Bond Elections

There is nearly $2 billion in the total investment that could be funded for our students and toward projects that our members would work on. The following school districts will be on the ballot on November 5, 2019 for bond or levy elections.

School District                                                                              Reason for Funding 

Ada-Borup School addition
Becker Technology levy for 10 years
Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa Long-term facility needs
Brandon-Evanson Renovations, maintenance and additions
Crookston Bus garage
Crosby-Ironton Renovations, maintenance and additions
Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton Renovations, updating and improving safety, two gymnasiums
Eastern Carver County New elementary school, maintenance
Elk River Renovations and maintenance
Fisher Additions, remodeling, renovations
Gibbon-Fairfax-Windom New PreK-12 building
Hutchinson Renovations and infrastructure improvements
Jordan Renovations, additions, parking improvements and Early Learning Center
Litchfield facilities improvements
MACCRAY New Pre-K-6 building and remodel 7-12 building
Maple River Pre-K-12 building
Martin County West Update restrooms and lockers, addition to cafeteria and multi-purpose space
Moorhead Area New high school and Career Academy
Mora Addition to Trailview campus for grades 7-8
Q.2 New 7-12 school
Owatonna New high school
Q.2 Repurpose buildings
Parkers Prairie General capital improvements
Red Lake Falls Facility improvements
Rochester New schools and safety needs
Sauk Rapids-Rice Rebuild an existing elementary school
St. Charles New addition for early childhood, renovations to cafeteria, science rooms, updates to CTE, additional multi-purpose space
Watertown-Mayer Classroom updates, outdoor education, parking lot, maintenance
Waubun-Ogema-White Earth Renovations, additions, parking lot improvements
White Bear Lake Area Additions, renovations, new elementary school, safety improvements, unified high school, and a transportation facility
Worthington New intermediate school
Q.2 Additional grade school
Zumbrota-Mazeppa Safety, heating, classroom additions, renovations and infrastructure
Q.2 Mazeppa gymnasium with conversion of old gym into a school cafeteria
Q.3 Zumbrota gymnasium, track improvements, baseball field renovations, safety


September 20, 2019

Minnesota Apprenticeship Enrollment Up 27% Since 2014

Minnesota Apprenticeship Enrollment Up 27% Since 2014

A study led jointly by Labor-Management Construction Programs found that, apprenticeship has become one of Minnesota’s most effective workforce development institutions.

The number of Minnesotans enrolled in registered apprenticeship programs has grown by 27% since 2014, making it the state’s third largest private post-secondary educational institution according to a new study by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute (MEPI) and Dr. Robert Bruno of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Fully 88% of the state’s active apprentices are enrolled in construction programs that are jointly administered by trade unions and their signatory employers.

Click here to view the full study

September 20, 2019

Fourth Generation Local 49 Member Continues Legacy

Fourth Generation Local 49 Member Continues Legacy

“Try and better yourself one percent a day, and by the end of the month you’ll be 30 percent better than when you started.”

That’s the advice Dillon Talberg, a fourth-generation Local 49 member from Gilman, Minnesota, says has inspired him to remain successful throughout his six years being a member.

Talberg said his interest in working in the construction industry began when he was four years old going on the job site with his father.

“My dad was a crusher operator and would take me out to the job site all the time. So, after I graduated from high school, I knew that I wanted to be in construction,” Talberg said.

While Talberg found a job within the industry out of high school, he knew that he needed more experience to make it further.

“I attended Central Lakes College for their 13-month heavy equipment program, but after graduating, I spoke with an instructor at the Local 49 Training Center who gave me more information about joining the union,” Talberg said.

Talberg officially became a Local 49 member when he landed a job with Minnesota Utilities and Excavating where he worked primarily on highway heavy jobs.

While Talberg started working in highway heavy, he quickly learned that wasn’t his true passion.

“I completed pipeline training at the Local 49 Training Center and eventually got into doing some directional drilling, and I just fell in love with it,” he said.

“I was fortunate because my uncle got me on the Dakota Access Pipeline Access job, which was a huge opportunity for me,” Talberg added.

Working on the Dakota Access Pipeline project not only taught him so much about the industry but about the comradery that being a Local 49 member brings.

“There were more than 100 years of experience on that crew altogether. They taught me to learn anything and everything I can, pay attention to my surroundings, and that if I can’t make it out here, I can’t stay. That just gave me the motivation to try harder and do my best every single day, Talberg said.”

The Dakota Access Pipeline project isn’t the only high-profile job Talberg has been a part of. He has worked on pipeline projects stretching from Sacramento, California to Washington, DC.

“It’s cool traveling to new places, meeting new people that come from a different lifestyle and truly making good friends,” Talberg said.

Talberg added the pace and frequency of the work are what drew him toward working on pipelines.

“Whether it’s snowing, raining, or sunny, we’re still working. I figure I’ll spend my twenties and thirties busting my butt now and accomplish everything I can,” he said.

Becoming a Local 49 member is something that Talberg says he is immensely proud of and he hopes the legacy will continue.

“My family is very supportive of me and impressed with everything that I have accomplished since leaving high school. I’m proud to be a 49er, and I hope one day if I have kids that they’ll decide to join,” Talberg said.

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

September 17, 2019

One Step Closer to Saving Apprenticeship Programs!

One Step Closer to Saving Apprenticeship Programs!

Thank you to all our members, your families, and friends who submitted comments to the Department of Labor in response to the proposed changes that would negatively affect every member of the building trades community throughout the country. Thousands of comments were submitted by Local 49 members and their families in support of safe and regulated apprenticeship programs. Overall, nearly 325,000 comments were submitted nationwide, which was more than the Department of Labor has ever seen for a single issue, and collectively we surpassed the original comment goal by 75,000.

In addition, your responses helped influence 90 Minnesota state legislators from both sides of the aisle to sign a letter in support of our rights to be safe and productive at work. This overwhelming response shows the true strength in unity that Local 49 has fought for and will continue to fight for. When we work together, we can accomplish anything. It’s because of you that we are one step closer to protecting our future and the future of the building and construction trades’ workforce.

While we celebrate this great accomplishment, we know our work is not yet done. We must remain strong in this campaign and follow this process until the final issue is ruled. We will keep you updated on next steps and look forward to keeping up this momentum.

Thank you again for everything you do and have done to get us to this point. We’re very proud and appreciative of the contribution our members and your family and friends have made to this effort.


In Solidarity,

Jason George

Business Manager/Financial Secretary

IUOE Local 49



September 5, 2019

Multigenerational Local 49 Members

Multigenerational Local 49 Members

Being a Local 49 member is something that spans generations for the Topp family.  It all started with Harold Topp, who became a Local 49 member in 1968, and he worked most of his career as an operator. His son, Doug Topp, has been a member for 25 years and currently works for Northdale Construction alongside his son Jared Topp.

Doug says that while he grew up watching his father operate equipment, it was his uncle Richard McCoy who found him his first job.

“After being a laborer for 11 years I finally became an operator with Northdale Construction, and I started operating in 1994,” Doug said.

At Northdale Construction Doug primarily works on residential street reconstruction projects.

“The hardest part is when we’re in close quarters, and we’re digging around gas and other power lines,” Doug said. “I’m on the dirt crew, and so we go in and rebuild the road after the pipe crew comes in and installs new lines.”

Doug says he enjoys the job because he’s always on the go and working on new projects.

Doug is operating the excavator while Jared is in the skidloader

“It’s not like highway heavy where you’re at a certain project for months at a time, we’ll be on jobs scattered all over the Twin Cities, and those jobs last for a couple of weeks and then we’re off to the next place,” Doug said.

“You somewhat do the same thing every day, but at a different location and each location is unique and has its own set of challenges, but it’s fun,” he added.

After being an operator for 25 years, Doug says he’s happy that he can pass on his knowledge to his son Jared who recently started working at Northdale Construction too.

“I never forced him to follow the same path as me, he sort of fell into it, but it’s been working out well. He’s a foreman now, and he’s doing a great job,” Doug said.

Jared Topp said he initially went to college for surveying, but quickly became unhappy with that career choice.

“I didn’t like the pace of the job, we’d work eight hours, and it felt like working 12, and honestly after doing it for a few years I just didn’t like the job as much as I thought I would,” Jared said.

That’s when Jared started looking into a career as a heavy equipment operator.

“I started as a laborer, but I quickly moved up to becoming an operator, and now I’ve been a member of Local 49 for five years,” Jared said.

Jared performs similar work to his dad and says it’s nice working with his dad because he’s always learning.

“If I ever have a question it’s nice just to be able to ask my dad how to do things because he’s done it for so long,” Jared said. “I never thought I’d be working with my dad, but now I can’t see doing it any other way.”

Jared and his crew are also responsible for digging up the old road to then have another crew replace utilities and then rebuild the road once the utilities are in place. Jared says he also likes the pace of the job.

“I like the pace of being in different areas for one to two weeks at a time,” he said. “It is tough digging with all the utilities underground especially because even though it may seem like they’re old and inactive lines, you still want to be careful because you just never know.”

Overall, both Doug and Jared say that they are proud to be members of Local 49.

“I love being a member of Local 49, it’s a great union, and they take care of us with the great health insurance and pension,” Doug said.

“I’m happy that I’m a member of Local 49, it’s a good job, and with good health insurance, especially with raising two kids, the insurance helps a lot,” Jared said.

For more stories like Doug and Jared’s visit www.local49.org.

August 9, 2019



The Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced its proposed rule to deregulate apprenticeship programs across the United States. This proposed rule would create a track of apprenticeship that no longer has to go through the process of registering to the DOL’s Office of Apprenticeship or a State Apprenticeship Council.

This also means that employers would no longer have to abide by training reporting standards to the DOL’s Office of Apprenticeship or a State Apprenticeship Council.

By not having to follow these rules, this will make it easier for employers to cut wages and line their own pockets with the extra earnings.

It’s important to note that this current proposal EXCLUDES construction, but there are many entities that want construction to be included in this new rule in order for them to put more money in their pockets, and not pay you the wages you have rightfully earned.

Across the United States, contractors have used apprenticeship as a way to evade federal and state prevailing-wage laws for years. They do this by lying about whether an apprentice is registered, which is the only way a worker on public-works projects can be paid less than the prevailing wage. If this rule is allowed into construction, there will be a massive hole blown in prevailing-wage laws, and we cannot allow this attack on prevailing wages and apprenticeship.

What are the consequences if this change of policy is confirmed?

  • Currently, registering an apprentice under false pretenses to avoid paying a journey worker prevailing wage is fraudulent.However, under the proposed change, this would create a legal loophole and allow this action.
  • If this policy is confirmed, this would also allow contractors to only pay apprentices the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour.

The anti-union ABC is aggressively lobbying to include construction in the final version of the rule. Unfortunately, the Associated General Contractors adopted the same position as well.

We need ALL MEMBERS, YOUR FRIENDS, AND YOUR FAMILY to submit comments to the DOL by August 26, 2019, and urge them to keep the exclusion for construction in the industry-recognized apprenticeship program final rule.

There are two links to submit comments. One is for union members, and the other one is for friends and family:

Local 49 Member Comment Submission 

Friends and Family Comment Submission

We need all members to stand together to win this fight, it is critical that you talk to your Local 49 brothers and sisters, friends, and family about this issue. For any additional information, questions or concerns, please contact Local 49 Political Organizer, Kipp Hanson at 612-391-7176.

July 25, 2019

Local 49 Responds to Presidential Candidate’s Opposition of Line 3 Replacement

Local 49 Responds to Presidential Candidate’s Opposition of Line 3 Replacement

Local 49 issued the following statement after presidential candidate Governor Jay Inslee spoke out against the replacement of the Line 3 Pipeline.


Replacing Line 3 is critical not only to the energy infrastructure that supports our economy but to the public’s health. Line 3 is 60 years old and needs to be replaced in order to maintain the highest safety standards and to reduce further maintenance needs that would disrupt local landowners and businesses.

Local 49, our members, and the local community have strongly supported the replacement of Line 3 for years. This project is estimated to create 8,600 jobs for skilled workers throughout the state. Our members and our fellow building trades members are trained to build and maintain energy infrastructure safely, and they take great pride in their work, including the environmental protection of their surroundings.

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

“It’s unfortunate that presidential politics are getting involved in what should be an infrastructure project that all elected officials should support. Local 49 and its members will continue to advocate for this project until the job is done.”


Click here to view the press release that was issued to the media today. 

July 23, 2019

Local 49 Members at the Metropolitan Airports Commission Win Award for Excellence in Snow and Ice Control

Local 49 Members at the Metropolitan Airports Commission Win Award for Excellence in Snow and Ice Control

The Local 49 operators and shop personnel technicians of the Metropolitan Airports Commission at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport were a part of the team that recently won the Balchen/Post Award, which is for excellence in airport snow and ice control, from the American Association of Airport Executives – NE Chapter.

Mark Rudolph is the planning manager of the field maintenance department of the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) and says winning this award is like “winning the Stanley Cup.”

“The criteria for this award are based on the degree and depth of how we’re prepared for winter storms. Such as what’s our snow and ice plan, the training we offer, the equipment we have, and the safety awareness,” Rudolph explained.

“Then they look at the timeliness and accuracy of how we’re communicating to other airport personnel, the airlines, and other airport users. Finally, they look at what we do after the snowstorm, which is when our work really begins,” he added.

The MAC won this award back in 2001 but winning it again this year was special.

“These folks practically live here, especially during the winter, they work long hours, and so it’s a great feeling that all the effort and time spent was worth it and is recognized,” Rudolph said.

The MAC employs two sets of Local 49 members; there are six full-time operators and 14 full-time shop personnel technicians.

The operators are responsible for the snow removal of the runways, taxiways, ramps, around aircraft gates, and around the entire airport campus. They also are in charge of pushing snow into MSP’s de-ice pads, which melts the snow. During a snowstorm, crews could work up to 16 hours a day for multiple days. In the summer, operators are primarily responsible for pavement repairs.

“Everyone is assigned an area to work and during a storm, crews work up to 16 hours then we break them for 6-7 hours. In our main facility, we have bunks, we provide them with   meals, and   employees are on the clock for the entire duration,” Rudolph said.

Al Gallas has been an operator at MSP since 2006 and has been through several winter storms.

“We’re here as soon as the forecast calls for more than an inch of snow and the six of us could be here from Monday to Friday straight just for the removal of snow, especially if more snow is expected to come,” Gallas said.

“It can be challenging at times, especially when it’s nearly white out because it’s tough to see your surroundings and we are working in very close proximity to the aircraft, and there’s always vehicles running around, so you constantly have to be on the watch,” he added.

While the job can be difficult at times, Gallas says he takes a lot of pride in what he does, and it’s a rewarding career.

“It’s rewarding to know that we’re all out there making sure that there are still flights that can make it on and out, so it makes you feel good. We’re a part of keeping this place running,” Gallas said.

Gallas also noted that winning the Balchen/Post Award is a testament to the hard work of their crew.

“It’s bragging rights for us because it says that we were the best airport in the world of our size that was able to get through another tough winter without closures and with minimal operational impacts. There was so much time spent by a lot of good people this past winter because the storms just kept rolling in, so I’m proud of what we did,” Gallas said.

Jim Curtis has been a Local 49 member and mechanic technician for

Jim Curtis.

the MAC since 1997 and is also the Local 49 Union Steward for the mechanic group.

Over the years he has seen technology in the vehicles he maintains, and repair change drastically.

“It’s sometimes tough diagnosing an issue because when I first started, it was mostly rebuilding engines, and now it’s all electronic, so more of my job now is focused on electrical issues,” Curtis said.

“When you do find what the issue is, tear it apart, and put it back together it’s always a good feeling,” he added.

Curtis has been a union steward since 2007 and says he’s proud of the progress that has been made with the help of Local 49.

“It’s a good way to be involved, to keep us moving forward, and to protect other workers. I believe strongly in unions, and it’s important when management sees the quality that comes out of labor and quality workers. That’s what you get with the union,” Curtis said.

Curtis was employed at the MAC the first time the MSP crew won the Balchen/Post Award, and he says he’s proud he’s part of the team that won it again.

“It’s a big deal to win this, and we try and stay on top of the storms and keep up with all the repairs that need to complete. This airport has only closed a couple of times, and I think that really says something,” Curtis said.

For more stories like this visit www.local49.org.

July 16, 2019

Local 49 Northern Area Picnic

Local 49 Northern Area Picnic

The Local 49 Northern Area Picnic will be at the Veterans Memorial Park – Ely Lake, Eveleth MN located at 4392 Miller Trunk Road Eveleth, MN 55734 on Sunday August, 4, 2019 from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.


No RSVP Needed. For more information please contact 218-741-8190 or 218-724-3840

July 11, 2019

Local 49 Members Working Together for 20 Years

Local 49 Members Working Together for 20 Years

Dan Sapp and Victor (Vic) Yamry have worked together at Advanced Equipment as Crane Technicians for 20 years, and on top of that, Sapp works with his son Adam as well.

Victor Yamry has been a Local 49 member for 34 years and got his start in the industry when his uncle retired from Advanced Equipment. “He was the equipment manager and the one that got me started in the union,” he said.

Yamry is now the senior tower crane technician where he does all the prep work for the cranes before they are loaded out to go to a job site. Once the cranes are at the job site, he is responsible for erecting the cranes properly.

“I calibrate the tower crane and certify them, and I erect them, I also do all the service repairs for them on the job site…I’ve probably been on more than 400 job sites,” Yamry said.

(from left) Victor Yamry and Dan Sapp

Over his 34 years as a crane technician, Yamry has worked on many notable projects.

“My most memorable one was the St. Paul Cathedral because it was such a high media job. We re-did the roof on the cathedral. Target Field was another one because we had three tower cranes on that project and you’re constantly on the move and responding fast because if a tower crane is broken down, the whole job shuts down,” Yamry said.

Yamry says he takes great pride in being a tower crane technician because it’s such a specialized and challenging position.

“Being a tower crane technician is something that you learn from others. It’s not something you can take a class in. There’s also a respect that’s needed when you’re working in that height and around the tower crane,” he said.

Yamry says he also is enjoying training the next generation of tower crane technicians.

“It’s been great training the second and third generation, and right now I spend a lot of my time training and passing on the knowledge…we have a great young crew coming up,” Yamry said.

“I could have retired, but I’m staying around to work with the younger generation.”

Dan Sapp has been a Local 49 member for 20 years and has worked for Advanced Equipment his entire career. He started out working on their semi-trailers and gradually moved into the hoist technician position.

“We do personnel hoists, or people know them as skips, and we go out and erect them as well as do all the maintenance on them,” Sapp said. “We also do the maintenance and dismantle the tower crane when the job is complete.”

Like Yamry, Sapp’s job requires him to be up in the air if something is broken down with the tower crane. “It’s something you do eventually get used to and the busier you are, the less you notice how high you are,” Sapp said. “For ten years, I worked on tower cranes directly with Vic (Yamry), and I was his back up, so I learned a lot from him.”

Sappe has not only worked on notable projects around the Twin Cities; he has also worked all over the country.

“Right now, I do a lot of work in Iowa, Denver and I’ve even worked in San Francisco,” he said. “In the past, I’ve worked at U.S. Bank Stadium, where we took two of our skips, at Target Field, where we had three tower cranes and the Mall of America.”

“But the best view I ever had was working at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, and we were working in the dark, but it was around Christmas time so I could see all of Minneapolis lit up with Christmas lights,” Sapp added.

Sapp says the challenging part of the job isn’t always the height, but the change in schedules.

“A lot of your schedule is dependent on the weather. If it’s raining or too windy, you can’t go up and work,” he said. “The other hard part is when you go out of town, and you meet so many people that you build a friendship with and then all of a sudden, you’re not dealing with that person anymore. You don’t know if you’ll ever see them again and that can be tough sometimes.”

While the job does come with challenges, Sapp says overall, it’s been a

(left) Adam Sapp and his father Dan Sapp.

great 20 years, and now he can pass on his knowledge to his son Adam, who has worked for Advanced Equipment for five years.

“The first two years he came out of town with me quite a bit to learn the trade, and the more he learned, the more they cut him loose and let him on his own primarily doing work in the Twin Cities putting up elevators,” Sapp said.

“It’s been fun working with my son, and he’s my replacement when I retire,” Sapp said with a laugh.

Both Sapp and Yamry encourage younger generations to start a career in the trade.

“This is a great union, everything from the job to the insurance and the pension,” Yamry said.

“I encourage younger kids to go into the trade. It’s a good living and a good way of life,” Sapp said.

For more stories like Dan and Vic’s visit www.local49.org

July 2, 2019

All in the Family: Mother, Father and Daughter all Local 49 Members

All in the Family: Mother, Father and Daughter all Local 49 Members

Being a Local 49 member has been a family business for Holly Brannen and her parents. Daughter Holly Brannen is a brand-new member of Local 49 who followed in both her parent’s footsteps. Holly’s father, Eric, has been a member for 17 years and her mother Janice has been a member for three years. The family is so close that Holly and her mother work for the same contractor – Allied Blacktop Co.

Holly says that both she and her mother got the idea of going into the construction industry from her father.

“Everything dad’s done, my mom has done and now so have I,” Holly said. “He always talked about the benefits of being a Local 49 member with the pension and health care, and I was interested in having that kind of security for myself.”

Eric Anderson has been in construction all his life, starting with his time in the Army.

“I started out operating equipment in the Army and then when I got out, I transitioned into owning my own concrete company for a while,” Eric said.

Eric then ended up working for McCrossan Construction Company on the I-35W project, and now he currently works for S.M.Hentges & Sons Inc. as a boom truck operator.

Holly’s mother Janice Anderson previously was a truck driver and drove all over the country, during this time she also gained some experience operating a skid steer which is what led her to land a position with Allied.

“I always heard Eric talk about how well Local 49 treated him. He never had a bad thing to say about the union especially with the great health insurance and the pension,” Janice said. “Because of that I kept trying to find union work and I just happened upon Allied. They hired me on right away because of my experience with the skid steer.”

While she’s mainly operated small equipment, Janice plans on expanding her skills.

“I want to learn how to operate more equipment because the more versatile I am, the more helpful I can be to my company,” she added.

As far as working at the same company with her daughter, Janice says it’s been a fun experience.

“My daughter is the spitting image of me, and she likes working with equipment. I think that is just so awesome and we work well together so it’s never been an issue,” Janice said.

Holly says she also enjoys working with her mother.

“My mom is the kind of person that makes everyone her kid anyways, and everyone on the crew refers to her as some kind of mother figure, so it’s reassuring working with her,” Holly said.

Holly currently operates small equipment for Allied, but her goal is to become a crane operator eventually. Holly plans on entering the crane apprenticeship program at the Local 49 Training Center.

“I’m just so excited, and I can’t wait to grow in this career. Right now, I’ve completed one small equipment course at the Training Center, but I eventually want to enter the crane apprenticeship program and become a crane operator,” Holly said. “I like the idea of being able to travel all over the country.”

Both Eric and Janice say that they are incredibly proud of their daughter and her career path.

“Holly has a lot of potential, and she has a chance of making a decent living and creating a bright future for herself. I’m happy she has that chance,” Eric said.

“I support whatever makes her happy and I know that she’s happy being a Local 49 member with her pension and great health care…Local 49 is awesome,” Janice said.

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

June 11, 2019

Local 49 Members Invited to First IUOE Sisters Leadership Conference

Local 49 Members Invited to First IUOE Sisters Leadership Conference

Local 49 members and co-founders of the Local 49 Women’s Group, Wendy Stuhr and Connie Smallman, were invited by the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) for the first Sisters Leadership Conference hosted last month at the IUOE’s new training facility in Crosby, Texas.

The goal of the conference is to encourage networking, build relationships with fellow IUOE members, and to use the training and resources available as stepping stones to implement continued IUOE tradeswomen organizing, advocacy, and awareness within their locals.

(from right) Connie Smallman, Wendy Stuhr, and Vicki O’Leary, NABTU Committee Chair

Stuhr and Smallman were invited to the conference to share with other IUOE members, leadership, and staff how they established the first Women’s Group in the IUOE.

“We were a part of the networking and committees workshop where Connie and I presented on how we worked with union leadership to establish the Women’s Group and give other IUOE members tools to start their own Women’s Group in their locals,” Stuhr said.

“We shared the importance of not being afraid to reach out to their elected officers and executive board members to gain support with creating a Women’s Group,” Smallman said. “We talked about how to create a platform for networking and building the sisterhood community.”

Stuhr and Smallman stressed how important it is for members who are wanting to create a women’s group within their local to get involved in their union.

“Sit on committees, go to events that are offered by your union, and attend other leadership conferences. Even being in touch with your sisters in the other trades can give you different ideas on how to start a women’s group,” Stuhr said.

“We’ve also been participating in community, political, and union events and it’s important to be active in your union and your community,” Stuhr added.

Stuhr and Smallman also attended other workshops and seminars for additional resources and support to bring back to Local 49’s Women’s Group.

“Vicki O’Leary, the NABTU tradeswomen committee chair, led one of the workshops on incorporating behaviors that focus on the cornerstones of change: safety, communication, diversity, equity, and solidarity,” Smallman said.

“We met women dispatchers, business agents, executive board members, apprenticeship coordinators, training instructors, conductors, stewards, organizers, vice presidents, and treasurers. It was inspiring to see a large number of successful and highly respected women in leadership roles,” Smallman added.

(from right) Connie Smallman and Wendy Stuhr with IUOE General President James Callahan.

Stuhr and Smallman said another exciting part of the conference was when they met IUOE General President James T. Callahan.

“Every time we spoke with General President Callahan throughout the conference, he was genuinely sincere and wanted to educate himself on how to help us. He agreed that change needs to happen, and he supports us,” Smallman said.

“It was so powerful to see President Callahan not only embracing this movement but fostering this movement,” Stuhr said.

Stuhr also noted that attending the conference and hearing the experiences of other IUOE members inspired her to keep driving the movement of women entering the trades forward.

“Attending the conference confirmed the need for more women’s groups and the awareness that’s needed out there to even the playing field,” Stuhr said. “It gave us a sense of empowerment to continue looking at other avenues for support, to find solutions, and to work in the union. We gained positive feedback to take back to the Local 49 Women’s Group, and I look forward to the continued collaboration.”

While this is the first IUOE Sisters Leadership Conference, the goal is to make the conference an annual event for more female operators to attend.

If you are interested in joining or learning more information, please e-mail the Local 49 Women’s Group at local49women@gmail.com.

Stuhr and Smallman wanted to wish a special thank you to IUOE General President James T. Callahan, Kelly McClellen, member of Local 10, Linda Hamilton, dispatcher at Local 132 and NABTU women committee member, Renee Gadberry , Curriculum inspector instructor and Female Outreach for OETT Local 1, and all the IUOE members, leadership, and staff who attended the conference.

June 7, 2019

MN Legislative Session Final Results

MN Legislative Session Final Results

The 2019 MN Legislative Session is officially over, bills are heading to Governor Walz’s desk and indications are he will sign them all. I wanted to give you a rundown on things of importance that were worked on this session and their outcomes.

Overall, it was an ok session. The good news is they got done and there was no threat of a government shutdown so you can stay on the job uninterrupted this summer. Right to Work and efforts to gut Prevailing Wage did not advance at all this session which is also a positive. There were no initiatives advanced to stop pipelines or mining either.

They also got some things done on a smaller scale that will help our Union like increasing wage theft penalties, helmets to hardhats funding and other items. In addition, we maintained the auto parts sales tax money dedicated to road funding from the general fund so we will have robust MNDOT packages for the next few years. The bad news is there was no progress made on a long-term funding solution.

The gas tax turned into a political football, and derailed any real discussion about possible solutions, and that’s disappointing. We must continue this fight. I will be sitting down with the business community and others to try to figure out a solution to this problem, as it appears our elected officials can’t get past the politics.

I must add here that Governor Walz and Speaker Hortman were willing to compromise and find a solution, the Senate Republicans just would not engage. I will be meeting with them as well to figure out something that they can support as we move forward.

Here is the final result on issues we worked on:

Transportation Funding

As stated above, we failed to secure long term dedicated funding for transportation. We will learn lessons from this session, retool, and continue the fight until we get this done. It is important for members to know however, that we still have secured hundreds of millions of dollars of increased spending that will continue for at least the next two years as part of the budget deal. So short term, there will be a lot of MNDOT work, but we still have work to do long term to secure a better and safer transportation system and the jobs that come with building it.

Pipeline Worker Safety Bill

The pipeline safety bill did not happen. We pushed hard, and it passed the Senate with a strong bi-partisan vote of support. However, the House DFL blocked the bill. Very frustrating to say the least, we will come back with this bill next session and hope to convince the House DFL that violent protests should not be tolerated, and fines should be increased to dissuade them.

Unreimbursed Travel Expenses

This passed as part of the tax bill that will be signed by the Governor. So, for MN tax purposes, unreimbursed travel expenses will still be deductible. We continue to raise this issue with federal delegation in the hopes Congress and the President will restore these deductions that they took away federally.

Helmets to Hardhats

Secured another two years of state funding for this important program that helps veterans get into Union apprenticeship programs

Duluth Essentia Hospital Expansion

Money was appropriated to pay for public infrastructure necessary to help build the privately financed Essentia Hospital expansion in Duluth. This is more than $800 million of work, the trades have a PLA on this project, and this will produce a lot of jobs for the region.

Prevailing Wage Requirement on Wind Projects

A larger deal on energy issues fell apart this year, so this didn’t get done. But we are well positioned to get this done next year and built a lot of support for this concept.

Local Government Aid/County Aid/Local Sales Tax Approval

Local Government Aid/County Aid to local cities and counties was increased substantially. This money goes directly to local governments to help them fund their needs. This will greatly benefit our public sector members particularly in smaller communities outside the metro area. It will allow them to maintain workforce and provide services to the community.

In addition, local sales tax increases dedicated to building local roads also were approved. Duluth and other communities voted to increase their sales taxes to fund street repairs and the legislature approved those this year after not doing so last year. This will help both public and private sector members in these communities get the opportunity to work on fixing their local roads.

Policy to Help Loggers

We continue to increase our partnerships with the logging industry as we gain more signatory contractors. Their top priority this session was to increase truck weights for their industry, and we helped them get that done. They were very appreciative of our support, and we were proud to partner with them on this. We also helped them get a meeting with the Governor’s office to discuss long term industry problems, and good progress was made there too. We will continue to support this industry as our partnership strengthens.

Wage Theft Penalties Increased

There was a major effort, led by the Carpenters Union, to significantly increase the penalties for contractors that do not pay workers for the work they have done. This is a rampant problem in different sectors of the construction industry and hopefully increasing penalties for contactors that steal from their workers will stop some of this awful behavior. Much credit to the Carpenters Union for leading on this, it is a very positive development for workers that will make a real difference in people’s lives.

That is the update, I thank the members that came to lobby day, called their legislators, and paid attention to the session. We will always have more work to do, and we will continue to do it in a non-partisan fashion.

In solidarity,

Jason George

Business Manager


May 29, 2019

Heavy Equipment Operator by Day; Action Sports Star by Night

Heavy Equipment Operator by Day; Action Sports Star by Night

From the outside, Tyler Pynnonen looks like your everyday Local 49 member – except being a professional action sports athlete and the first person in the world to front flip a snowmobile.

Pynnonen grew up in Grand Rapids, MN, and first got experience in the construction industry during his time in the Army. He was deployed Kandahar, Afghanistan rebuilding entry control points and clearing bridges.

When he returned from his deployment, becoming a 49er was a natural fit. Like many other Local 49 members, being a heavy equipment operator is a family business.

“My grandpa was a union operator in Michigan and when he was in the Navy, and my oldest brother is as well, so I decided to go a similar route as a construction engineer in the Army,” he said.

Pynnonen first got his start as a Local 49 heavy equipment operator working on pipelines and mines.

“I helped build some of the Magnetation mines, a pipeline in Ohio and the natural gas Hess pipeline in North Dakota just to name a few,” he said.

Pynnonen has now been a member for six years and is currently on his way to obtaining his crane certification at the Local 49 Training Center.

“Everybody always says more of the responsibility is on the crane operator to get the work done right and safely, so that’s something that’s always interested me,” Pynnonen said.

While Pynnonen says he’s passionate about his work as a heavy equipment operator, his other great passion has led him to record-breaking heights traveling all over the country.

Tyler front-flipping a snowmobile

“I started BMX and motocross racing when I was eight years old, but I got my first job in snow-cross in 2009,” he explained. “I got the idea for front flipping a snowmobile after I saw athletes do it on a dirt bike, and I wanted to push the sport to a new level.”

“I thought it should be easier to front flip on a snowmobile versus a dirt bike because it’s a different type of track and I could get more altitude…I was wrong,” Pynnonen said with a laugh.

Pynnonen landed his first front flip in 2010 in a practice setting, but it wasn’t until 2014 until he landed the move in a professional environment, which would eventually lead him to tour the country.

“I actually was deployed overseas in 2016 and 2017, but two weeks after I got back from deployment, I got a call from Nitro Circus and was on the road doing my first show with them,” he said.

Nitro Circus is an action sports tour that travels around the world

Tyler Pynnonen; Nitro Circus; Next Level Tour 2018; St. George, Utah; Trailblazer Stadium; May 12, 2018; Photo: Tyler Tate/T Squared Action Sports

featuring professional dirt bike riders, base jumpers, snowmobile riders, and BMX riders all performing stunts.

Pynnonen was invited to be on their roster and toured with them in 2018, and he is currently attempting to get on their tour for this year and has performed at more than 20 shows with Nitro Circus performing his snowmobile stunts.

This sport doesn’t come without some injuries. Pynnonen has shattered his right ankle, has three screws in his right foot, dislocated his left ankle, and broke his tibia/fibula, which he says comes with the game.

Despite the injuries, Pynnonen keeps going and says his favorite part about being an action sports athlete is inspiring kids all over the country.

“I love that I’m able to inspire younger kids to follow their dreams. I’m kind of a nobody kid from northern Minnesota, and I was able to become one of the top snowmobile athletes in the world,” Pynnonen said.

Pynnonen says he plans to keep being a member of Local 49 and expanding his career as a heavy equipment operator despite his action sports fame.

“I know I can’t keep competing forever, so I’m going to keep paying my dues, work as much as I can, and grow my skills.”

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

May 28, 2019