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.”
In light of the anticipated inclement weather this weekend for the Mankato area, Local 49 has decided to cancel the Mankato holiday party that was scheduled for Friday, January 17. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but we feel it is of the utmost importance to ensure that our members and your families are safe.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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
Technology levy for 10 years
Long-term facility needs
Renovations, maintenance and additions
Renovations, maintenance and additions
Renovations, updating and improving safety, two gymnasiums
Eastern Carver County
New elementary school, maintenance
Renovations and maintenance
Additions, remodeling, renovations
New PreK-12 building
Renovations and infrastructure improvements
Renovations, additions, parking improvements and Early Learning Center
New Pre-K-6 building and remodel 7-12 building
Martin County West
Update restrooms and lockers, addition to cafeteria and multi-purpose space
New high school and Career Academy
Addition to Trailview campus for grades 7-8
New 7-12 school
New high school
General capital improvements
Red Lake Falls
New schools and safety needs
Rebuild an existing elementary school
New addition for early childhood, renovations to cafeteria, science rooms, updates to CTE, additional multi-purpose space
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.
“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
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.”
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
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.