The Minnesota Builders Master Agreement expires at the end of April of 2019. Local 49 will be hosting proposal meetings in Minnesota to hear from members about what issues are important to pursue in negotiations.
Each office will conduct at least one proposal meeting in January or February – you can find the dates and times listed below.
If you can’t make a meeting, you can log into the members only portal of our website and send in your proposal ideas. If you work under the MN Builders Master Agreement we encourage you to make your voice heard.
Metro Area Minneapolis Office – January 23rd and February 20th at 6pm
Bagley Office – January 14th and February 11th at 7pm
Sioux Falls Office – January 10th and February 14th at 7pm
Grand Rapids (Eagles Club) – February 12th at 6:30pm
After more than a decade, the PCA will be issuing the final state permits for PolyMet this morning.
Local 49 Business Manager Jason George released the following statement, “Today’s news is yet another very positive step in the permitting process for the Polymet project. Our members have strongly supported Polymet for more than 10 years, and we are thrilled that the time to get to work building this project is here.”
“At a time when unemployment is historically low and 72% of contractors are having trouble filling craft positions, one policy has helped recruit and retain skilled workers into Minnesota’s construction industry: the Minnesota Prevailing Wage Act. The policy provides local minimum wages for construction workers employed on public projects and levels the playing field for contractors.
The Minnesota Prevailing Wage Act keeps construction costs stable.
The vast majority studies find that prevailing wage laws have no effect on public construction costs.
Labor costs are a low and historically declining share of total project costs– about 23%.
A new analysis of 640 bids on school construction projects in Minnesota finds that winning bids on projects with prevailing wages are no more costly than bids on projects without prevailing wages.
Local 49 as well as a coalition of labor unions and clean energy advocates prevailed today as the Minnesota Public Utilities commission (PUC) voted unanimously to place the site permit decision on hold for the controversial Bitter Root RES Wind Project in an attempt to address the issue of labor outsourcing on Minnesota construction workers.
Labor officials and clean energy advocates spoke out at a rally today at the PUC against the outsourcing of wind energy construction jobs, and held a press conference calling on the PUC to withhold the permit for the Bitter Root Wind Energy Project. The PUC decided to place the permit on hold, and they will now move forward with a contested case proceeding. The parties involved, with the assistance of the Department of Labor, will work to address the issues brought up today at the hearing in an attempt to resolve this before the contested case proceeding.
RES Americas, which needed PUC approval to build the 150 megawatt Bitter Root Wind in Yellow Medicine County, relies heavily on out-of-state worker to build wind energy projects and has played a game of “bait-and-switch” with Minnesota workers.
Jason George, Local 49 Business Manager, said during the press conference, “We have a long history of building the energy infrastructure in this state with local and skilled trade workers. That’s the standard that we have for any new industry that comes here. If the renewable energy industry wants to expand here, which we support, they need to meet that standard. They can’t use national contractors to bring in workers from other states that pay less than what we make here in area wage standards. When they outsource jobs it results in displacing local workers that earn a good wage here in Minnesota, that’s not right, and I don’t think Minnesotans support that.”
An analysis of Bitter Root Wind prepared by North Star Policy Institute, a progressive think tank, found that the project could result in a net loss of jobs and millions of dollars in economic development by crowding out competing wind energy projects that might have put more Minnesotans to work.
Clean energy advocates – including Melissa Hortman, incoming Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives, and Blue Green Alliance, whose members include Sierra Club, and other leading environmental organizations – have also criticized outsourcing of clean energy jobs and urged the PUC to put the project on hold.
Photo: (from left) Chris Chantry, Metro Area Public Sector Business Agent, Tom Thompson, Metro Area Business Agent, Jason George, Local 49 Business Manager, Steve Piper, Southwest Metro Business Agent, Ferlin Miller, Southeast Metro Business Agent, Nathan Sogge, Northwest Metro Business Agent, and Victor Ruzynski, North Metro Business Agent.
The largest public sector project in Minnesota broke ground today. Representatives from Local 49 were in attendance at the Southwest Light Rail Line (SWLRT) groundbreaking ceremony held in Hopkins at the site of the future SWLRT support facility.
The Southwest Light Rail project will create 7,500 construction jobs, and have 16 stations starting in Minneapolis and ending in Eden Prairie.
Jason George, Local 49 Business Manager, said, “The groundbreaking of the Southwest Light Rail Line project marks a monumental day for members of Local 49. This project has been something that we have long advocated for, as it will bring thousands of union construction jobs to our members. We’re proud to be a part of another historic project that will be a pivotal fixture in the Twin Cities for years to come.”
Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Tina Smith, Representative Keith Ellison, and other government officials instrumental in the project spoke at the historic groundbreaking ceremony.
Peter McLaughlin, Hennepin County Commissioner, commended labor for their efforts in making this project possible.
“Organized labor fought to build this and make this happen. We are so lucky to have skilled trades people in our state to build this,” McLaughlin said.
The SWLRT is expected to start carrying passengers in 2023.
According to the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO), OSHA has removed from its rule the requirement for crane operators to be certified according to the capacity of the crane. This decision was supported by the overwhelming majority of industry stakeholders at meetings hosted by OSHA and others since the rule was first published in 2010.
In its Proposed Rule published today, OSHA has laid out plans to address the other major issue on which industry had raised concerns, that of what, if anything, an employer’s duty should be over and above operator certification. Fully one-fifth of the Federal Register notice is taken up with details of what OSHA is proposing should be the responsibility of employers in addition to having their operators certified, including their ongoing evaluation and training.
Other areas OSHA addresses in its Proposed Rule include: qualifications for trainers; who must pay for certification (the employer); whether duty cycle cranes or cranes in the 5,000 – 35,000 pound capacity should be excluded (no); requirements for operators-in-training; and whether there should be (yet) another extension if the Final Rule is not published until after July.
OSHA has invited comments on its proposals. Electronic submissions should be made on docket OSHA-2007-0066 at www.regulations.gov on or before June 20.
From the north: Just south of Cottage Grove, take the exit after Jamaica Ave. and turn left on Innovation Road, then take a right on East Point Douglas Road. Hope Glen Farm is 3/4 mile along on the left-hand side.
From the south: About 4 1/2 miles above Hastings bridge turn right/north onto Kimbro Avenue, then take an immediate left onto East Point Douglas Road. Hope Glen Farm is 3/4 mile along on the right-hand side.
Joe Heitkamp knew he needed a new career. He witnessed his parents struggle when they got to retirement age and they couldn’t retire. So, he sought out a career as a union heavy equipment operator and has been a member of the Local 49 for the past three years.
“I was basically looking for a future and a solid retirement plan,” Heitkamp said, who is originally from Wyndmere, North Dakota. The 49ers were already on his radar as he already heard of their benefits package from Local 49 business agent Nathan Brandt.
Heitkamp started his career at Northern Improvement in a gravel pit as a drag-line operator digging gravel and rock out of a lake, but he has been around heavy equipment his whole life.
“As a farm kid I had been around large pieces of equipment and had experience with operating big machinery before I even started with Northern Improvement,” Heitkamp said.
Shortly after his time with Northern Improvement, Heitkamp found a job as a leader operator on wind farms for Mortenson setting up pads for the large cranes to install the wind turbines. His first wind farm project was the Sunflower Wind Project in Hebron, North Dakota.
“It amazed me how fast those turbines would go up. I had no idea that we could put up so many of them in one day,” he said. “We put up at least four a day and we finished the project two months ahead of schedule. It was just a great experience and a great crew of guys.”
Heitkamp is currently working with Meyer Contracting as a dozer operator and recently completed a flood protection project in Oxbow, North Dakota, and is currently working in Williston, North Dakota on the new airport being built.
He says that being a part of Local 49 has shown him that no matter what project he’s worked on there’s always that sense of brotherhood.
“There’s definitely a strong brotherhood no matter what project I’m on. I love meeting new people and meeting other members of Local 49,” said Heitkamp.
Heitkamp is thankful for the Local 49 benefit plan and how it’s improved his life.
“Great wages and the great insurance for my family has been the biggest thing for me. Our insurance is second to none,” he said. “I’m just so proud to be a part of all of it.”
Today we are proud to announce after very careful consideration we are endorsing Tim Walz for Governor in Minnesota. We have many friends that have declared for this race or were thinking about a run. Because of that, we made sure to put together a thorough member driven endorsement process that would ensure all candidates had a fair shot at earning the support of our union.
Our screening committee had members from every corner of the state representing every industry that we work in. We invited all candidates that were declared and those friends who were thinking of running, from both political parties. We went to all of our union meetings in Minnesota to talk to members about the endorsement and get their feedback. Finally, every member of our union had a chance to vote on the recommendation of the committee online. The members strongly supported this endorsement, and we are proud of the inclusive process we put together to make this decision.
Local 49 was one of the first unions to endorse Tim Walz when he was a local football coach and teacher looking to unseat an entrenched incumbent Republican Congressman in the heavily Republican 1st District. Incumbents in districts that slant to their party win 99% of the time. Tim managed to defy the odds and win that race, and has fended off challengers every year since. He won because he is just like all of us. He is our neighbor, our kids teacher, our kids coach, someone that can relate to our concerns.
Tim has demonstrated his support for the blue collar workers of his district and of this nation with his strong commitment to infrastructure jobs, and his unwavering commitment to critical labor issues like prevailing wage laws that ensure construction workers earn a good days pay for a hard days work. He has also earned our respect with his long service to his nation in the Minnesota National Guard. No other industry in Minnesota has a higher percentage of veterans among its workforce than construction, and our members greatly value service to our nation.
We are proud to say that after winning his first race, and fighting for blue collar construction workers as an elected official for more than a decade, he is still the same person that ran the first time. Politics almost always changes people. Politics hasn’t changed Tim Walz, and we are incredibly proud to stand with him in this new adventure. We are also excited to support Tim’s running mate, State Representative Peggy Flanagan. We don’t have a long history with Peggy, but we are getting to know her, and her intelligence and authenticity are unmistakable. We don’t align on every issue, but with Peggy, it is clear that she believes in what she and Tim are talking about on the trail – the need to bring people together, get beyond talking points rhetoric, and find solutions to complicated problems to get things done. We believe in that vision as well, and look forward to those conversations along the way. Lastly, we want to point out another factor in our endorsement.
We believe Tim Walz is the candidate in the race most likely to bring urban and rural communities together. We have been critical of some in the DFL party in recent years because in our view, they have not paid enough attention to the concerns of people outside the metro area. There are some DFL activists who believe they can win elections simply by appealing to the big cities and ignoring rural voters. Our members are those rural voters, and that thinking has completely divided the DFL party. Tim Walz is trying to get beyond those divides. He will speak to rural voters concerns because he is a rural voter, and he ran and won in a rural district. Now more than ever it is critical for all candidates from either party to be thinking about how we unite people and how we stop dividing them.
Tim Walz is that candidate in our judgement. Our close to 14,000 members are the backbone of this state. They get up every day and build and maintain the infrastructure that allows us all to enjoy a great quality of life in Minnesota. We know that Tim Walz understands who we are, and we know he has our back. We are proud to get his back now, helping him become the next Governor of the great state of Minnesota.
The Women in the Trades Committee, which is a standing committee of the North America Building Trades Union (NABTU), is looking for new members. This committee confers on a month by basis by conference call and members may attend annual or regional meetings as determined by the chair. If you are interested please send your resume of experience and qualifications to Local 49 Business Manager Glen Johnson at email@example.com
If you are selected, your resume will be sent to IUOE General President James Callahan.
It’s often said that there are two seasons in Minnesota—winter and construction season. Construction season is typically the time when Local 49 members are busiest, but several Local 49 members have been working hard on a different type of project this winter.
The Winter Carnival, which opens on Thursday, January 25th in Rice Park, will once again feature an ice palace. Local 49 members and fellow building trade union members have been working diligently in ten-hours shifts Sunday through Sunday to complete the famous ice palace.
Local 49 members Keith Olson and Sam Kmit, who both work for Park Construction, have been working at the ice palace since its inception.
Olson said he has been operating the excavator and picking the ice to give to the bricklayers who are setting the ice. Kmit said he was in charge of unloading all of the ice, sorting it by which pieces needed to go in what order for the ice castle and then giving the ice to the excavator and crane operators to erect the ice palace.
Olson and Kmit said they were nervous at first, but once the project got going they said they adjusted to the challenges that came with building a structure out of ice.
“We dig holes in the ground, we don’t stack ice cubes, but it’s working out great,” Olson said laughing.
“Ice is a whole different beast. Everything you do is slowed down because everything is so slippery, and the environment is tight so it makes operating a skid steer, excavator or crane very difficult,” Kmit explained.
Kmit also explained that the cutting and shaping of the ice was no easy task either.
“It was kind of a mess with the first cutting machine we used to cut the ice so they had to bring in a cutter to make the ice a uniformed size so it was easier to stack the ice blocks,” Kmit said.
The weather was also a factor in completing the ice palace by its January 25th deadline.
“When everything got colder you would have to wait until the equipment was warmed up to get started, and then when it got really warm during the day for the ice to melt, but then would re-freeze overnight you would have a pallet frozen to the ground,” Kmit said.
Despite the setbacks and challenges, both Olson and Kmit are excited to be a part of such a landmark project for the Winter Carnival and the Super Bowl celebrations.
“I’ve made a lot of new friends on this project and have worked with certain trades that I normally wouldn’t work with so it’s been cool,” Olson said. “I’m excited to go to the lighting ceremony and see it all completed.”
“I’m happy to be a part of this. I’m glad that Park (Construction) volunteered to do this job and donated all the time, and for all the sponsors who donated so much—it really is about a whole community coming together,” Kmit said.
The Winter Carnival begins on Thursday, January 25th at 5:15 p.m. with the Moon Glow Pedestrian Parade at 6 p.m. For more information visit www.wintercarnival.com
Local 49 released a joint statement today with the Minnesota Chamber, Jobs for Minnesotan’s and the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters on the possibility of more delays on the Line 3 pipeline replacement project. Click here to view the full statement
The North America’s Building Trade Unions and Chicago Women in Trades hosted the annual Women Build Nations Conference in October 2017, which was attended by over 1,600 tradeswomen– including two IUOE Local 49 members.
The Women Build Nations Conference is for women of all ages and skill levels who either currently work or aspire to work in the construction trades. Whether they are on the pre-apprentice level or seasoned journeypersons, the conference provides a unique opportunity to learn from and connect with tradeswomen from around the country and world.
IUOE Local 49 members Debra DeBruzzi and Connie Smallman attended the conference for the first time this year. “We were all there in solidarity and everything we did was about teamwork,” DeBruzzi said. “We are all in different stages in our career in the industry, so it was neat to learn how everyone got to where they are now … it was very uplifting and supportive.”
“It was a very positive experience and it was all about moving forward,” Smallman said.
This year’s conference offered more than 35 workshops and sessions and was focused on the needs of tradeswomen and the unique challenges they face. The workshops and sessions were facilitated by tradeswomen and featured union leaders, apprenticeship coordinators, contractors and elected officials. They covered various topics such as recruitment and retention, leadership development, policy and politics.
DeBruzzi and Smallman shared their experiences attending the conference and the different workshops that were featured.
“There was a workshop that featured six different female superintendents, their career path and how they got to that level,” DeBruzzi said. “I learned that as an operating engineer, I could take the project management route and be a gate-keeper of safety, so to speak, on projects.”
“I attended a workshop that was about rising to leadership roles within your union and there were Executive Board members, employees at different training centers and business agents from all different trades,” Smallman said. “It was inspiring to hear about women in more of a leadership role within a union and they gave ideas on how to become more involved in your union.”
DeBruzzi said the conference also focused on the issues unions face today such as the Right to Work and Prevailing Wage laws along with what the different trades are doing to combat attacks on these laws and how they’re educating their members.
“It was a very open discussion,” DeBruzzi said. “They were asking the crowd to share what their locals were doing and it was very inspiring to hear that so many different trades are doing different things to educate their membership on these issues.”
Smallman also noted that while the conference was focused on women in the trades, there were many male attendees as well. They included business agents from different trades, business owners and other leaders in the union and business community.
Overall, both DeBruzzi and Smallman said the experience was inspiring and they encourage other female members of Local 49 to attend the conference.
“The support you felt from other women and when you saw what they did and what they’ve accomplished, it made you feel like if they can do it then so can I,” Smallman said.
The next Women Build Nations Conference is scheduled for October 11 – 14, 2018 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, Washington.
Join us for a complimentary financial workshop to learn about retirement savings strategies, and other fundamental investment concepts that will build your financial security. These workshops will be hosted before the Minneapolis union meeting at 6 p.m. on January 17, 2018; February 21, 2018; March 21, 2018 and April 18, 2018. Click here to learn more and to RSVP for the event.
Yesterday was a good day for the Iron Range. The Minnesota DNR announced that they have received Polymet’s revised permit to mine application, which includes dollar amounts for financial assurance. This is a big step forward, as now the state can go ahead with public hearings and move through their process to approve the permit to mine.
This news, coupled with the news earlier this month that the federal land exchange bill, critical to the project, passed the US House of Representatives, means that we are finally getting close to a decision point on Polymet.
I want to thank Polymet for their partnership. They have done an incredible job of responsibly, ethically, and transparently moving through the permitting process, and have created a project that we believe will meet and exceed the high environmental standards we have here in Minnesota. They have also signed a project labor agreement with the union construction trades, which means that the more than 2 million work hours it will take to construct the mine will be done by local skilled tradesmen and women on the Iron Range.
We are close to the finish line. But there is more work to do. 49ers will need to show up, like we have for 10 years, to the last round of public hearings to make sure regulators understand how important this project is to us. We need to keep working to ensure that the land exchange bill is signed into law. Polymet has work to do with state agencies to ensure they come to an agreement on financial assurance and other issues that meet Minnesota standards.
More work to do, but also time to take a pause and celebrate the fact that we are getting closer to the finish line.
Legislative and Special Projects Director
International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49
Congress is debating an important tax credit for Wind Industry Construction right now – it is important that these credits continue, but that leaders press the industry to ensure that like other energy industries, there are opportunities for local skilled trades to build these projects.
I applaud and support Governor Dayton’s choice of Tina Smith to fill the spot vacated by the future resignation of Senator Franken. We have worked with Tina for years, she is an incredibly talented leader who has proven she knows how to get things done. We look forward to working with her in the Senate to create middle class infrastructure jobs throughout Minnesota.
Glen D. Johnson
International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49