July Union Meetings Cancelled

July Union Meetings Cancelled

All July union meetings have been cancelled. In lieu of having union meetings this month, I will be providing a video update in the Members Only section. As part of the video update, I wanted to give the membership the opportunity to ask any questions that you may have, and so we created a dedicated e-mail where you can submit your questions to. We will be accepting questions from the membership from today, June 25 until Thursday, July 2. At the closing of the question submission deadline, I will then give a video update on all of the latest union information as well as answer all of the questions that were submitted.

Click here to go to the Members Only portal and submit your questions.

June 25, 2020

Local 49 Donates $10,000 to Organizations Rebuilding Damaged Twin Cities’ Communities

Local 49 Donates $10,000 to Organizations Rebuilding Damaged Twin Cities’ Communities

The damage that took place last week left the Twin Cities in a state of devastation and destruction. Our neighbors are hurting, they have a long road to recovery, and they need our help.

Local 49 is committed to helping build a stronger community for our neighbors who are suffering, which is why the Executive Board unanimously approved a $5,000 donation to both the Hamline Midway Coalition’s Neighbors United Funding Collaborative and the Lake Street Council’s “We Love Lake Street” Fund. These organizations are solely focused on rebuilding the neighborhoods that have been affected by the recent destruction.

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

“We have members that live and work in these communities, and Local 49 will be there every step of the way to help rebuild. Building infrastructure is what our members do every day, but we also take care of one another and the communities we call home. I am proud of the Executive Board’s decision to contribute to organizations that are focused on rebuilding the affected areas of Minneapolis and St. Paul, but I know our work has only just begun. Our members will continue to do what they do best, which is building strong and safe communities for all Minnesotans.”

If members are interested in assisting or contributing to these organizations, please click on the following links:

Hamline Midway Coalition’s Neighbors United Funding Collaborative

Lake Street Council’s “We Love Lake Street” Fund

 

June 4, 2020

IUOE Local 49 Business Manager Jason George releases statement regarding Governor Walz’s decision to hold a contested case hearing on a water quality permit for the Line 3 Replacement Project.

IUOE Local 49 Business Manager Jason George releases statement regarding Governor Walz’s decision to hold a contested case hearing on a water quality permit for the Line 3 Replacement Project.

I strongly disagree with the decision made by Governor Walz to hold a contested case hearing on a simple water quality permit for the Line 3 replacement project. This is a basic construction permit, one that is issued for many other kinds of infrastructure projects. I understand the justification raised due to the Polymet permit decision on contested case hearings, but do not agree that this step was necessary in this case.

Governor Walz has committed to us privately, to our membership and to me, on several occasions that he would follow the process for the Line 3 replacement project and would not change it. He has also said that publicly. There has never been a contested case hearing for this type of water quality permit for any other project that we are aware of. This is a clear deviation from the process and it will hold up construction for another three months. In my view this was a choice, not a requirement.

Northern Minnesota is hurting badly. Thousands of people whose livelihood depends on economic activity generated from the mines are out of work. We have a pandemic that has crippled the hospitality industry. Local governments are in trouble because of lack of tax revenue. People in these communities are desperate for good news, something to give them hope that jobs are coming back soon.

A private company wants to invest $2.6 billion to build an infrastructure project in Northern Minnesota. They want to replace a sixty year old pipeline with a brand new one. This project is supported by every local county and city in the area where the project will be built. Construction workers and their families, bars and restaurants, hotels, equipment dealers, material suppliers, and local governments that desperately need tax revenue will all benefit tremendously. Instead of throwing up hurdles and changing the process to create delay, the state of Minnesota should be doing what it can to swiftly move permits through the legal process in place.

This state doesn’t seem to have a sense of urgency about job creation. We don’t have a bonding bill right now. Line 3 is six years into review with no certainty. Polymet mining permits were overturned on ridiculous technicalities after ten plus years of review. Twin Metals Mining isn’t even being allowed to begin to study their project.

Enough is enough. Minnesota needs to get serious about economic development. The government needs to allow business to proceed with certainty. Politics need to be removed from infrastructure project permitting and job creation. No more excuses, no more politics – Minnesota’s elected officials from both sides of the aisle need to quit playing games and do something to get this economy going again.

 

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

June 3, 2020

Union Activities Update, Twin Cities Riots, Pipeline Steward Training

Union Activities Update, Twin Cities Riots, Pipeline Steward Training

Union Activities Update
There are three areas in terms of Union activities that I wanted to update members on. These updates are all COVID-19 related.

Monthly Union Meetings:
Unfortunately, we are going to cancel all monthly union meetings again in June. We were hoping to start them up again this month. But after conferring with officers and getting information about what other IUOE locals in our region were doing, I decided that wouldn’t be the safest course.  

In addition, the kind of restrictions that are still in place in Minnesota makes it a little questionable as to whether holding an informational meeting would be within the CDC and state department of health guidelines. Also, given the fact that IUOE General President Callahan has given Locals the authority to conduct business without holding meetings, for now, they are not essential.

I am hopeful that restrictions will ease again soon, and that we can return to monthly meetings in July. I think we are all looking to get back to normal very soon, and we will do that as quickly as we can.

Union Hall In-Person Business
We are loosening the restrictions on in-person business at our halls. Most of our union halls are set up in a way where social distancing can be observed, and there will never be more than a couple of people in at a time. Not all of our halls are set up this way, and so I encourage you to call to see if you can stop by. I also encourage you to do business over the phone or email if you can.

Business Agent Jobsite Visits
I had instructed the Business Agents to stay off of jobsites as much as possible during the past two months and to do business over the phone and email to help do our part to stop the spread of the virus. As restrictions are being eased and given the majority of our jobsites are outdoors, I have instructed the Business Agents to start stopping on jobsites again.

They will ease back into this, they will use caution, and they will be socially distancing. They will also not stop when instructed by contractors not to unless there is a serious issue. I just wanted to give a heads up you will start to see your Business Agents more in the field, but we will continue to be cautious and safe.

Twin Cities Riots
First off, we are getting calls from members wondering if our main office in Minneapolis is ok. It is. There was no damage, and everyone is doing fine.

This past week saw destruction and violence, the likes of which the Twin Cities has never seen before. The death of George Floyd was an awful tragedy, and those responsible should be held fully accountable. The destruction and disruption of the neighborhoods in St. Paul and Minneapolis was a disgrace. Our neighbors are hurting, they have a long road to recovery, and they need our help.

Building infrastructure is what we as members of Local 49 do best. We also take care of one another and the communities that we call home. We will do everything we can to help pick up the pieces and build stronger communities for our neighbors who are suffering. In order to help rebuild and make our communities stronger, Local 49’s executive board will be discussing financial contributions to efforts focused on rebuilding the affected areas of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. 

If you are interested in assisting or contributing, please work with the Hamline Midway Coalition’s Neighbors United Funding Collaborative. If you are interested in helping the small businesses on Lake Street, please contribute to the Lake Street Council’s We Love Lake Street Fund.  

I hope the violence is over. It does nothing to solve the underlying problems that exist. It only causes pain and suffering to people in neighborhoods that are already struggling. 

Pipeline Steward Training
Local 49, in conjunction with the International Union, is conducting a pipeline steward class. This class is specifically related to Line 3. There are experienced stewards that will participate, but in an attempt to give more people opportunities, we have ten openings for members who are interested. If you have ever wanted to be a union steward on a pipeline job, and you have a lot of experience in the industry, this would be a good time to step up.

This will be first come first serve and is open to any pipeliner in our local. To get more details on the training please e-mail me at jgeorge@local49.org. The dates are June 13th all day and half-day on June 14th, and the location will be in the Twin Cities. You have to commit to attending both days.

Again, if you are interested in this class please e-mail me at jgeorge@local49.org. 

That is all for now – be safe out there everyone, and as always take care of each other.

Jason George
Business Manager

June 1, 2020

Local 49 Metro Area Summer Picnic is Cancelled

Local 49 Metro Area Summer Picnic is Cancelled

It is with great sadness that Local 49 has made the difficult decision to cancel the Metro Area Summer Picnic scheduled for June 28th at Hope Glen Farm. 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. As of now, the Northern Minnesota picnic in August is still scheduled to be held. We will continue to evaluate the situation and keep you informed on that picnic.

May 20, 2020

Local 49 Responds to Bonding Bill Failure

Local 49 Responds to Bonding Bill Failure

Despite having four months to find a deal on a bonding bill, Minnesota’s political leaders ended session last night and failed to invest in Minnesota’s infrastructure and the people that build it. The political blame game has already begun, as it always does when politicians fail to do their jobs.

Local 49 is not interested in the blame game. We are interested in elected leaders doing what we elected them to do – lead. We are dealing with a pandemic. Our economy is on life support. People are suffering.

Extraordinary times like this call for elected leaders to exercise extraordinary discipline to help our citizens and economy recover. The best tool government can use to make that happen is a robust bonding bill focused on transportation infrastructure, wastewater treatment facilities, and building maintenance projects. These much needed investments in our infrastructure will provide the quality jobs and work hours needed to get our economy going again.

The time for partisan rhetoric is over. We call on Governor Walz and majority and minority legislative leaders to get in a room (virtually, if needed) and find a deal on infrastructure investment. There are no more excuses. The next time the legislature meets, this deal should already be done, and the bill should be passed. The people of our state should not have to wait for economic recovery to begin because of partisan gamesmanship.

Jason George, Business Manager, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49:

“The fact is that the House GOP, the Governor, and the Senate DFL all actively worked to defeat two separate bonding bills this weekend – both of which were good for Minnesota. Instead of sabotaging votes or using a bonding bill as trade bait, the four caucus leaders and the Governor must find a way to a get a deal on infrastructure spending. There should be no higher priority as they negotiate a special session agenda. Our members will keep speaking out on this until they find a collective solution, which is their obligation to Minnesota.”

 

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

 

May 18, 2020

COVID-19 Survivor and Local 49 Member Dick Kryzer Shares His Story

COVID-19 Survivor and Local 49 Member Dick Kryzer Shares His Story

On March 17, Dick Kryzer, a 12-year Local 49 member and plant operator for MET Council, experienced the first symptoms of what would later be confirmed as COVID-19.

Kryzer is a plant operator at a wastewater treatment plant and is responsible for cleaning water so that it can be re-used. This requires efficiently treating the wastewater, performing tests, and sending samples to multiple labs to ensure that the water meets Minnesota pollution control requirements before it is then released back into the Mississippi River.

“There are only four of us that run the plant, and on the weekends, only one of us operates the plant, so it’s a shared responsibility between all of us,” Kryzer said.

Kryzer said it was during one of those weekend shifts where he started to feel the beginning symptoms of what would be diagnosed as COVID-19.

“On that Saturday, when I was scheduled to work, I just felt terrible and experienced aches, pains, and a headache, so I finished my shift and went home. By 11:00 that night, I had a fever of 103 degrees, and I had to have someone cover for me on my Sunday shift so that no other employee would get sick,” Kryzer said.

Kryzer stated that after experiencing those symptoms for longer than three days, he called his primary care doctor to attempt to be seen.

“I was first told that I shouldn’t come into the hospital as I didn’t have enough symptoms, but just a few days later is when I started to develop the cough, so that’s when I went into a special COVID-19 clinic,” Kryzer said.

Kryzer was then tested for both strains of Influenza as well as a strep throat test – which all came back as negative.

“I was told that I probably did have COVID-19, but at that point in time they were only testing medical professionals, so I was told to return home, treat my symptoms, and quarantine,” he said.

A few days after he returned home, Kryzer’s symptoms took a turn for the worse.

“I remember it was the night of March 29, and I couldn’t breathe at all. My wife called the ambulance, and I was taken to the emergency room where I was started on oxygen,” he said.

It was that night, 12 days after he first started showing symptoms, that Kryzer received his COVID-19 test and tested positive.

“I was in intensive care for five days, so in total, I spent about a week in the hospital before I started to feel better,” he said.

Kryzer said that while dealing with the symptoms was extremely hard. It was even more difficult to go through it alone.

“I am very grateful to the nurses and doctors that helped me. They were all wonderful but other than seeing them; you’re in isolation. Your family can’t come and see you, and that was heartbreaking for them and for me,” he said. “Though I am glad that no one else got sick.”

None of Kryzer’s family or co-workers reported symptoms during the time that he was sick.

“At work, there’s only four of us that run that plant, and every plant is different, so it’s not like my employer could call someone from another plant to fill in,” Kryzer said.

After Kryzer and his family were completed with their quarantine, the Minnesota Health Department cleared Kryzer to return to work.

“The MET Council was very supportive throughout the whole process, and even now we have all the personal protective equipment that we need, they sanitize daily, and everyone practices social distancing,” Kryzer said.

As an essential worker, it was critical for Kryzer to return to work as soon as he was able to. Many Local 49 members are considered an essential worker, and Kryzer is just one of many examples of how Local 49 members are a vital part of our society.

From ensuring that there is clean water to making sure that our roads and bridges are safe to commute on, Local 49 members are an essential part of ensuring that we remain a functioning and safe society.

For more member stories visit www.local49.org

 

May 12, 2020

2020 Local 49 Scholarship Recipients

2020 Local 49 Scholarship Recipients

 

Recipients of a Scholarship award from Local 49 will be announced at the General Membership Meeting on June 17, 2020.  Ten grants of $1,000.00 each were awarded this year and Local 49 is pleased to announce the following winners:

  1. Gracie Bahr – granddaughter of Retired Brother Warren Bahr
  2. Levi Bast – son of Brother Steven Bast
  3. Meredith Bruening – daughter of Brother Adam Bruening
  4. Benjamin Groebner – son of Brother Richard Groebner
  5. Kelsey Hooker – daughter of Brother Bruce Hooker
  6. Brandon Koch – son of Brother Donald Koch
  7. Hattie Kragenbring– daughter of Brother Jeff Kragenbring
  8. Ciarra McNally – daughter of Brother Charles McNally
  9. Josephine Ramirez – daughter of Sister Tina Walski
  10. Jayden Thieschafer – daughter of Brother Joshua Thieschafer

The two (2) Alternates chosen this year by the Committee were:

Alternate #1:   Lindsey Espeseth – daughter of Brother Dan Espeseth; and

Alternate #2:   Cailyn Kuechle – daughter of Brother Jeremy Kuechle

 

Congratulations to all of the above recipients!

May 12, 2020

Local 49 Member Joe Abeyta Endorsed for State Representative in District 5B

Local 49 Member Joe Abeyta Endorsed for State Representative in District 5B

This week, Joe Abeyta, heavy equipment operator with IUOE Local 49, a city councilman, veteran, husband, and father of three from the City of LaPrairie, won the endorsement of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) for State Representative in District 5B.

Joe has served both his country and community, from the United States Army to the city council. He has and will continue to fight for affordable and accessible healthcare, fully funding education, workers’ rights, and incentives for businesses to thrive. As a long-time member of the community, Joe understands and lives the concerns of District 5B.

Click here to view the full press release issued after his endorsement. 

May 11, 2020

Local 49 Business Manager Jason George responds to Great River Energy’s announcement to retire Coal Creek Station in 2022

Local 49 Business Manager Jason George responds to Great River Energy’s announcement to retire Coal Creek Station in 2022

Today, Great River Energy (GRE), a not-for-profit wholesale electric power cooperative providing power in Minnesota and Wisconsin, announced plans to retire its 1,151-megawatt (MW) coal generating power plant, Coal Creek Station, in Underwood, N.D., during the second half of 2022. Click here to read a press release issued by North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum regarding the closure. 

Local 49 Business Manager, Jason George, issued a statement in response to the closure:

“The news about the potential closure of Coal Creek Station is a shock to the union members who have worked and performed critical maintenance at the plant over many years. Beyond good paying jobs, Coal Creek Station has provided affordable and reliable electricity to families across the region. We are committed to working with the State of North Dakota and Governor Burgum as his administration looks for a solution to help protect the thousands of jobs that could be lost due to the closure.”

 

May 7, 2020

Local 49 supports Congressman Stauber’s efforts to end our reliance on foreign supply chains for critical minerals

Recently, Congressman Stauber issued a press release after he introduced legislation that will incentivize American manufacturers to purchase domestically sourced critical minerals. In doing so, the Securing America’s Critical Minerals Supply Chain Act will help put an end to America’s dependence on unreliable foreign nations like China for critical minerals that power our economy. Click here to view the full press release. 

Local 49 Business Manager, Jason George, issued a statement in support of Stauber’s efforts to end our reliance on foreign supply chains for critical minerals.

“Our reliance on foreign nations to supply the critical minerals we need to grow our economy and create jobs must end. We have an abundance of critical minerals here in Minnesota. The only thing preventing us from cultivating these resources is the political will from some to tell the anti-development crowd that we can do this safely. Enough is enough. If you want to help ensure future mining projects are safe, that’s great, join us in doing so. But those that are simply trying to stop development, and don’t believe we should even try, are putting our country in danger by keeping us reliant upon foreign supply chains for critical minerals.

I stand with Congressman Stauber on this issue, and I thank him for standing up for his constituents, and our country by introducing and fighting to pass the Securing America’s Critical Minerals Supply Chain Act.”

May 6, 2020

Statement from IUOE Local 49 Business Manager Jason George regarding Bonding Bill in Minnesota

Statement from IUOE Local 49 Business Manager Jason George regarding Bonding Bill in Minnesota

Over the weekend, Minnesota House Republican Minority Leader Kurt Daudt published a statement that tied the fate of a critical infrastructure bonding bill to a growing constitutional dispute between some legislators and the Governor regarding the use of executive powers to combat COVID-19.

This development is unfortunate and unacceptable. Reasonable people can disagree about the division of power between the Governor and the Legislature in times of crisis. However, with the unprecedented economic damage this pandemic has caused, now is not the time to let future construction jobs be jeopardized by political disputes, as sincere as those disagreements may be.

Passing a large infrastructure bonding bill right now is the most impactful thing that this government can do to ignite economic recovery. With unemployment north of 20%, mines shutdown up North, and private construction jobs delayed and some cancelled, this state needs action on jobs and we need it now.

We will survive this crisis. I am very optimistic that we can come out of this with a construction economy that is even better than the robust one we had before the pandemic. But that will require leadership. It will require both sides of the aisle to come together and put other political issues aside to get the job done on an infrastructure bonding bill this session.

I call on legislative leaders from both political parties to join Governor Walz in committing to pass a large bonding bill, with a heavy focus on transportation infrastructure, before they adjourn for the final time this year. Economic recovery and the jobs that Minnesota needs right now are far too important to get intertwined with other issues. Starting next week, I will be encouraging the over 14,000 members of our Union to get in touch with their legislators with a simple message:

Put the politics aside, get this economy moving, and put us to work rebuilding Minnesota by passing a large infrastructure bonding bill this year.

 

Jason George

Business Manager/Financial Secretary

International Union of Operating Engineers

Local 49

May 4, 2020

Local 49 Training Center Open for Field Training on May 6

Local 49 Training Center Open for Field Training on May 6

The Local 49 Training Center will open for field training starting Wednesday, May 6th, 2020. Because we must maintain social distancing guidelines and adhere to proper safety protocol, training availability will be limited. Members must call ahead of time to reserve equipment; we recommend doing so several days in advance if possible. Phone reservations will open Tuesday, May 5th, 2020. To reserve a machine, call (320) 384-7093.

Click here to read the Training Center’s new guidelines as they re-open. 

May 1, 2020

Impact of COVID-19 on Job Outlook, Union Update, Wage Rates

Impact of COVID-19 on Job Outlook, Union Update, Wage Rates

Impact of COVID-19 on Jobs in Our Jurisdiction
The construction economy in our region is doing ok as we all deal with the economic hit that the COVID-19 crisis has caused. There is no doubt this virus has disrupted what would have been a booming economy in some sectors in our jurisdiction. But there is real hope that this is a temporary setback, and we are seeing most sectors continue to thrive despite the economic downturn. So overall, there is cause for continued optimism. Below are some thoughts on specific industries and areas of our region based on conversations with government officials, contractors, and industry leaders that I am in continuous contact with.

Transportation Work
We have received assurances from government officials that this year’s schedule for Minnesota transportation projects will continue as planned with no impact because of budget issues. For this year, the transportation sector will do very well as anticipated. North Dakota DOT projects look solid too, due to an uptick in spending this year.

However, state and local governments are facing budget shortfalls longer term due to lack of tax revenue coming in with large parts of the economy shut down. We will need to fill those holes to ensure that future funding isn’t impacted. There are good options. The Federal Government is potentially going to step in and send direct aid to states and local governments to help them recoup their losses. There is also talk of a major infrastructure bill at the federal level, which would help tremendously.

Additionally, today I was asked to testify virtually in the MN Senate Bonding Committee on the urgent need this legislative session to include significant funding for transportation infrastructure in the bonding bill.

I am very optimistic we will see hundreds of millions of new dollars pumped into Minnesota’s transportation infrastructure system in this bonding bill, and we will keep pushing for that. We will also keep working with our federal delegation to push for direct federal aid to states and local governments to make sure they can continue to spend money on construction projects and maintain their public works employees. And if the federal infrastructure proposal gains momentum, we will push for that too.

There will be a time for you to get involved, and we will alert you when that time is – it is too early in the process right now for most of these items, but stay tuned.

Building Sector
The building construction sector in our entire jurisdiction is going to take a bit of a hit in the short term. I am seeing private projects delayed or cancelled due to the unstable economy. We are also seeing delays in scheduled outages at power plants, refineries, and mines. There is hope this is short term, and work will pick up quickly once the economy starts to open back up.

Wind Projects
This industry continues to surge in our area. A few significant projects are kicking off this year, with several more in the works over the coming years. We are working on strategies to ensure that more of this work goes union in the Dakotas, but we do get a good chunk of it even when the general contractors are non-union. We will continue to support these projects, and work with owners to see the value of using our skilled members to build their projects.

Distribution Pipeline
This work looks strong this year, but I am hearing of some impact on delays starting up due to slowdowns in private sector housing and development. The quicker the economy gets back open, the better it is for this work. But I would say there is a good chance this work remains strong this year despite limited early delays.

Mainline Pipeline
This sector is a mixed bag. We have seen a good increase in the number of pre-jobs we are doing in our jurisdiction last year and this year, but these are smaller jobs. Nationally, the big jobs seem to be bottled up all over the country with permitting issues. Very similar to Line 3 here in our area.

Line 3 is moving forward right now, they have their permits from the Public Utilities Commission, but there are some hurdles to overcome before work can begin. I am hearing from the company that if all goes well and there are no hiccups, construction will begin in earnest later this summer. We did our part to push this forward, 49ers showed up strong to participate in public hearings and submitting comments.

It’s largely in the hands of the courts at this point – but we will continue to push to get Line 3 done.

Iron Range
I think the hardest-hit area of our region is the Iron Range. Three of the six major mines are idled right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That has had a devastating impact on the entire economy up there. When the mines come back, things will pick back up, but there is no question our members up there will be impacted, they already have been.

The great thing about being a 49er is the diversity of the work that we do. I encourage members that have been laid off to call the halls and see if they can get out doing something else for the time being. The mines will open back up, and most are scheduled to do so this year.

One bright spot – we strongly supported the development of a new operation at the old Magnetation Site in Grand Rapids. Prairie River Minerals will be building a demonstration plant this year. They have secured the money they need, and construction will begin soon. Once this demonstration project is done, and full operations begin, this will be a big boost to the Range.

Click here to read about the project. 

Public Sector
It will be a rough ride this year for public sector members. There is no question local cities and counties are going to take a financial hit because of the lack of tax revenue coming in. We are already hearing calls for wage freezes at the bargaining table in some areas. Again, the sooner the economy opens up, and tax revenue comes back, the shorter-term this problem will be.

We will also continue to push for federal relief for local governments, which would help tremendously. Right now, we are not hearing of any furloughs or layoffs, hopefully, that continues.

Equipment shops
There are some layoffs happening on the Iron Range for equipment shops that supply the mines, but other than that, things seem pretty steady for the shops around the jurisdiction. As long as road construction and other big sectors like wind continue to be strong, it should overall keep the shops strong too.

Union Update
I quickly wanted to let you know that the financial state of the union is rock solid. The reserves we have built position us well to continue to service the membership and ride out the storm of economic uncertainty. Situations like this are why you save money so that we have the resources we need to continue to fight for you and to push to get this economy back up to full speed quickly.

I also wanted to remind members that the Health Fund acted in March to cover insurance for any member that was going to lose it through May. If you are laid off and out of banked hours or are on a monthly bargaining premium, your insurance is good through May. 

Our union halls remain closed to foot traffic, but fully operational for business via phone or email and business agents remain on the job taking care of issues for members. We are still organizing companies too, and we signed up a few new outfits in the last couple of weeks.

This is a challenging time, but we are getting through it and continuing to service the membership.

I will have an update on union meetings later this week once we find out more about Minnesota’s shelter in place order.

Wage Rates
We have a new ratified MN Highway Heavy agreement, and you can find the wage rates here online. I will make comments on the agreement at the May Minneapolis membership meeting, which will then be distributed for all members to read at outstate meetings and posted online. If there is no May membership meeting, I will post something in the members-only section. Overall, this vote was very positive, and the contract was very good.

We ended up doing a year extension of the North Dakota Builders agreement with a small increase on the check because of the economic uncertainty in that industry. This has been communicated to members via letter.

In addition, we just concluded an allocation vote for the pay increase for the National Distribution Pipeline agreement. Those rates will be online soon and go into effect on June 1. You will notice that for the first time ever, Distribution members are going to get a Health Reimbursement Account with a quarter per hour going in to start. We will be doing the same for the mainline pipeline members when their new agreement is negotiated this year.

This was a long update, but it had been a while since I sent something and wanted to make sure I spent some time talking about the job situation, as I know that is foremost on your minds. We will get through this period of time, and there is no doubt in my mind we will come back stronger than before.

Work safe, be smart out there, follow the health guidelines contractors are putting in place, and as always stay together.

Jason George
Business Manager
IUOE Local 49

April 30, 2020

Local 49 Member Spotlight: Charlene Becker

Local 49 Member Spotlight: Charlene Becker

While Charlene Becker has only been a Local 49 member for less than a year, she already has made a name for herself in the lowboy driver industry by becoming the first female lowboy driver in Ziegler CAT’s 106-year history.

“It’s a pretty big crown to wear, but I think I wear it well,” Becker said.

Becker currently works at the Columbus/Hugo Ziegler location, but before her time there, she has been around the trucking industry her whole life.

“I always knew that this what I’ve wanted to do in life. I’ve been around the trucking industry, and I was always in a pit somewhere,” Becker said. “I started my first job in the industry at 27, where I ran a dump truck, and since then, I’ve done pretty much every job you can do in trucking.”


After five years of working in the trucking industry, she now operates Ziegler’s largest trailer.

“I run what’s called a seven-axel lowboy, which can hold up to 136,000 pounds,” she said.

Not only does Becker run the largest rig that Ziegler has, but she also is the only female lowboy driver in the state of Minnesota to call in her own permits.

“When I haul oversize loads, whether it be wide, heavy, or tall, I have to call into the state to get a permit and let them know the route I am going. If I am on a route (for example) where the road isn’t big enough or maybe there’s a bridge that’s too low, the state needs to re-route me,” Becker explained.

“There’s a small staff in the permit office, and they’ve told me that I am the only woman in the state of Minnesota that’s a lowboy driver to call in their own permits, and I’m pretty proud of that,” she added.

While Becker says that she loves her job, she noted that it’s a lot of responsibility, and there are more things that a lowboy driver needs to take into account compared to others in the trucking industry.

“First and foremost, I have to be extremely safety conscious. For example,  sometimes I am sent down to residential areas where cars can barely fit in so I have to be aware of traffic all around me. I also have to make sure everything is secured and safe before I even get on the road,” she said.

“It’s also very hard work, and it isn’t like other trucking jobs where you stay in your rig all day. I easily put on 10,000 – 20,000 steps a day. My freight is 100 percent mine. I load it, chain it down, and unchain it. I don’t have someone else do it for me,” Becker added.

Becker encourages more women to start a career in the industry and says, “don’t let anyone intimidate you.”

“I’ve been told many things to try and keep me away from doing what I want to do, but I held my head high, and I knew I wanted to make this a career for myself, so I did. I do what I want, and no one is going to stop me, and it shouldn’t stop you either. Do what you feel is right for yourself,” she said.

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

 

April 27, 2020

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

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

Members,

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

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

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

Our initial read of the exemptions for construction workers is:

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

 

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

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

Click here to download and print the form 

 

Changes to Local 49 Offices in MN

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

 

Central Pension Fund Update

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

 

Congressional/State Action

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

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

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

 

Rules for Employers

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

 

MN Highway Heavy Negotiations Update

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

 

Lastly

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

 

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

 

Respectfully,

 

Jason George

Business Manager

 

March 25, 2020

Lobby Day is Canceled

Lobby Day is Canceled

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

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

March 20, 2020

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

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

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

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

Here is what we are doing:

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

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

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

Respectfully,

Jason George

Business Manager

March 16, 2020