School Levy and Bond Elections

School Levy and Bond Elections

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

School District                                                                              Reason for Funding 

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


September 20, 2019

Minnesota Apprenticeship Enrollment Up 27% Since 2014

Minnesota Apprenticeship Enrollment Up 27% Since 2014

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

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

Click here to view the full study

September 20, 2019

Fourth Generation Local 49 Member Continues Legacy

Fourth Generation Local 49 Member Continues Legacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more stories like Dillon’s visit

September 17, 2019

One Step Closer to Saving Apprenticeship Programs!

One Step Closer to Saving Apprenticeship Programs!

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

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

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

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


In Solidarity,

Jason George

Business Manager/Financial Secretary

IUOE Local 49



September 5, 2019

Multigenerational Local 49 Members

Multigenerational Local 49 Members

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doug is operating the excavator while Jared is in the skidloader

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more stories like Doug and Jared’s visit

August 9, 2019



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Local 49 Member Comment Submission 

Friends and Family Comment Submission

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

July 25, 2019

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

July 23, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jim Curtis.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more stories like this visit

July 16, 2019

Local 49 Northern Area Picnic

Local 49 Northern Area Picnic

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


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

July 11, 2019

Local 49 Members Working Together for 20 Years

Local 49 Members Working Together for 20 Years

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

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

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

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

(from left) Victor Yamry and Dan Sapp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(left) Adam Sapp and his father Dan Sapp.

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more stories like Dan and Vic’s visit

July 2, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holly says she also enjoys working with her mother.

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more stories like Holly’s visit

June 11, 2019

Local 49 Members Invited to First IUOE Sisters Leadership Conference

Local 49 Members Invited to First IUOE Sisters Leadership Conference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 7, 2019

MN Legislative Session Final Results

MN Legislative Session Final Results

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the final result on issues we worked on:

Transportation Funding

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

Pipeline Worker Safety Bill

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

Unreimbursed Travel Expenses

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

Helmets to Hardhats

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

Duluth Essentia Hospital Expansion

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

Prevailing Wage Requirement on Wind Projects

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

Local Government Aid/County Aid/Local Sales Tax Approval

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

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

Policy to Help Loggers

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

Wage Theft Penalties Increased

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

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

In solidarity,

Jason George

Business Manager


May 29, 2019

Heavy Equipment Operator by Day; Action Sports Star by Night

Heavy Equipment Operator by Day; Action Sports Star by Night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tyler front-flipping a snowmobile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more stories like Tyler’s visit

May 28, 2019

Volunteer and Donate to Help Local Communities

Volunteer and Donate to Help Local Communities

Volunteer Event
Join Local 49 on Friday, June 21st for the Land of 1,000 Lakes Day of Action  volunteer event hosted by United Way, Itasca County Habitat for Humanity and the Itasca County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) to help residents in the Oakland Addition area in Itasca County.

Volunteers will be helping homeowners who are currently unable to keep up with maintenance  of their homes due to age, disability, or financial hardship.

Volunteers will be working on projects such as: 

  • Yard: leaf-raking, landscaping, gardening, pruning
  • Exterior: window washing, painting, installing ramps and grab bars
  • Minor Repairs: steps, doors, windows, roof
  • General Clean-up: dispose of items such as garbage, mattresses, old appliances and electronics

Members and your families are encouraged to volunteer. Volunteers can sign up before the event or between 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on Friday, June 21st. Volunteers can help for an hour and up to the entire time of the event, they will accept any help they can get.

Click here to sign up to volunteer now!

Collecting Donations at the Local 49 Metro Area Summer Picnic

Local 49 is partnering with the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans to collect donations for their Move-in Kits. The kits are given to veterans and their families when they move into stable housing and out of homelessness.  The kits include basic necessities that somebody moving out of homelessness would not be able to afford and helps them get started so they can maintain a stable living environment.

We will be collecting donations at the summer picnic on June 23 from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at Hope Glen Farm of items included on the donation list. Donations could include an entire assembled kit, or any of the items listed. Gift Cards to grocery stores and cash donations will also be greatly appreciated. All money raised will be used to complete as many move in kits as possible.

Local 49 is committed to helping those who sacraficed so much for our country. We recognize many of our own members are military veterans and we are dedicating more of our outreach efforts to assist the military veteran community. These events are just the start of many future volunteer and community events that Local 49 will be involved in. If you have any questions please contact Kipp Hanson, Local 49 Political Organizer, at 612-391-7176 or e-mail here.

May 23, 2019

Trades Women Build Nations Conference Coming to Minneapolis

Trades Women Build Nations Conference Coming to Minneapolis

The 9thannual Trades Women Build Nations Conference will be hosted in Minneapolis on Oct. 4-6, 2019, and the members of the Local 49 Women’s Group are gearing up for the event by taking experiences from their trip last year to plan for this year’s event.

The members of the newly established Local 49 women’s group, Wendy Stuhr, Connie Smallman, Debra DeBruzzi, Akeethia Brown, Kim Bray, and Britney Bray all attended the 8thAnnual Trades Women Build Nations Conference in Seattle, Washington last fall. The conference brings in nearly 2,000 tradeswomen from all over the country.

The Trades 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.

Kim and Britney Bray attended the conference for the first time. “The conference provided me with the opportunity to network and hear stories from many other women in the building trades,” Britney Bray said. “The presentations and classes covered a variety of topics and issues that women in the trades face. A highlight for me was learning about current and historical efforts relating to unions and labor movements.”

“I was able to share my experiences with other women, and I now know how important it is for me to step up and become a mentor and a leader,” Kim Bray added.

The 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.

This was Wendy Stuhr’s first time at the conference and she said it was an eye-opening and rewarding opportunity.

“The conference was absolutely wonderful…and seeing so many women in leadership made me think that’s something we can bring here through additional education and opportunities,” Stuhr said.

Debra DeBruzzi and Connie Smallman, who previously attended the conference in 2017, shared their experiences attending the conference for the second time.

“The workshops still focused on finding ways to promote tradeswomen through building knowledge and gave ideas to develop leadership skills in our jobs in the union,” Smallman said.

“”I enjoyed meeting so many intelligent, hard working and supportive women and men who were encouraging each and every participant to be the best they can be at whatever point they are in their careers,” Smallman added.

IUOE Members who attended 2018 Tradeswomen Build Nations Conference

DeBruzzi noted that the difference between the first year she attended the conference and the one she attended in the fall was the connections she made with other members in IUOE locals.

“This time I was able to meet so many women from our own trade and so part of the focus was meeting our other sisters out there, and Local 302 really welcomed us and facilitated all of that,” DeBruzzi said. “I think it’s really important to network and hear what other women in our trade are doing.”

Leaders from IUOE Local 302 organized several activities prior to and during the conference. One  activitity was a high school career fair where all IUOE members were invited to assist at.

“Watching the students operate the equipment gave me a stronger sense of pride in my union, because I got to share the knowledge that I’ve obtained with each and every person,” Akeethia Brown said. “I know that day we all inspired those students, especially the young women, because by seeing us they now know that they can excel in construction.”

IUOE Local 302 also hosted a networking event and the women’s group plans to organize a similar networking event for the Minneapolis conference for all IUOE members to attend.

“All IUOE members were invited to attend a networking fishing trip prior to the conference, and it was such a great way to meet the women from the other (IUOE) locals,” Stuhr said. “We want to show that same hospitality when the conference is here.”

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.

“We want to encourage all members to attend the conference this year, including our fellow brothers, we’re stronger when we’re unified,” Stuhr said.

The Local 49 Women’s Group also wants to encourage other female members to get involved in the group. They are not only focusing on organizing events for the upcoming conference, but are getting involved in other opportunities that will empower female members and their success in the industry.

If you are interested in joining the group and learning more information please e-mail

The agenda for the 2019 Trades Women Build Nations Conference has yet to be release, but more information can be found at


The Local 49 Women’s Group wanted to extend a special thank you to Marg Newgendt, Lacey Hall and Tami St. Paul of IUOE Local 302.

April 15, 2019

Building Allianz Field

Building Allianz Field

Photo credit:

Local 49 members have made enormous contributions in building every major stadium in Minnesota, and the new Allianz Field is no exception.

More than 50 Local 49 members and several of Local 49 signatory contractors were instrumental in building the new home of the Minnesota United FC, which is celebrating its grand opening today.

Justin Degnan, Superintendent for Bolander, said the preparation and pre-planning by Mortenson, the general contractor, coordinated the success for the rest of the project.

“The planning and the flow of the job was excellent,” Degnan said. “The preparation of the work that was going to take place was huge and Mortenson did a great job.”

Bolander completed the demolition and site development for the project. They had a dozen operators on the job that hauled out 200,000 tons of contaminated soil and hauled in 70,000 cubic yards of clean material and 60,000 yards of sand for back fill.

The demolition of the site had to be completed in two phases. “South of the 50-yard line was the first phase and then north of the 50-yard line was the second phase,” Degnan said. The second phase being the largest at 250,000 square feet.

Photo credit: Local 49

Wayne Iverson, a 21-year member, worked on the project for Mortenson for nearly its entirety as a crane operator and heavy equipment operator. It was his first time being a part of a project of this size from start to finish.

“It was pretty amazing to be a part of the beginning with the foundations being poured to loading materials at the very end,” Iverson said.

Iverson has worked on many of the stadiums in the Twin Cities and said what made Allianz Field so unique to construct was the shape of the stadium.

“The round tubing to make the shape of the stadium was partially fabricated in two different states and then shipped to the project site, so that was unique to be a part of and it’s something I’ve never seen done before,” he said.

Cal Ziegler, a 43-year Local 49 member who works for Danny’s Construction Company, also noted the shape of the stadium made the project unique.

“Having all of those pieces come together and making sure they fit was a challenge, but everything came together perfectly,” Ziegler said.

Ziegler worked on the project for eight months as a crane operator and was a part of setting the structural steel for all of Allianz Field.

Another unique feature of Allianz field is the irrigation system.  There are 192 mature trees planted around the stadium that use the storm water system for irrigation and are among three acres of new public green space and planting that have been added to that area.

Dustin Finn, a 21-year Local 49 member who works for Pete’s Sewer and Water as a loader operator, was a part of working on the intricate irrigation system.

“We did all of the irrigation lines throughout the entire stadium. They pump the water out of storm water holding tanks which goes into the irrigation lines. That system is underneath the parking lots at the stadium,” Finn said.

“There was quite a lot of revisions to the plans, but we got it done on time and it was fun to be a part of,” he added.

The $250 million, 19, 400 seated project spanned over 20 months and went through two tough winters. “We worked

Photo credit: Local 49

through some cold days, but we still managed to finish ahead of schedule, which is always the goal. I was proud to be a part of that,” Ziegler said.

Norm Everson, the Operations Manager for Bolander, also noted the weather being a challenge.

“We had some foundation drilling components, and that was the toughest part of the project was drilling that time of year. We also had to mix water for the grout, and that doesn’t go well when it’s below zero,” Everson said.

Despite the challenges and tight deadlines, Allianz Field was completed on time and more importantly safely with no major incidents and accidents during construction.

“Our number one accomplishment is safety. Stadiums come and go, but the safety of our workers and having no accidents was an accomplishment for all our workers,” Everson said. “I’m very proud of our Superintendent, our Foreman and all our employees who were consistently on the job.”

“All the other trades and contractors working together to make sure the project was completed went great,” Iverson said. “It was also done safely; the job began and was completed without any incidents.”

Allianz Field is yet another landmark project that Local 49 members can take pride knowing that they built another stadium that thousands of people will enjoy for years to come.

“It’s always great to be a part of another landmark in Minnesota. It’s too bad now that everybody’s got a new complex, we’re running out of sports orientated facilities to be a part of,” Ziegler said with a laugh.

“If I go to the game with one of my kids, I get to say I was a part of building this and so I do feel a sense of accomplishment,” Everson said.

For more stories like this visit


April 12, 2019

Judge Lifts Injunction; Work Can Continue on Flood Diversion Project

Judge Lifts Injunction; Work Can Continue on Flood Diversion Project

Original story posted on


U.S. District Court Judge John A. Tunheim modified the injunction to allow all requested construction to proceed on the FM Area Diversion Project.

The ruling was made after motions requesting modifications to the September 2017 injunction were filed earlier this year by the Diversion Board of Authority.

The motions to modify the injunction were based on the 2018 permit issued for the project by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The Diversion Authority, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), and the DNR filed briefs supporting building the project due to public safety benefits it can provide. The Richland/Wilkin JPA previously filed briefs opposing commencement of construction.

The Court ruled to allow the Diversion Authority and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to

  • Commence the Public Private Partnership (P3) process for the Diversion Channel and Associated Infrastructure
  • Manufacture components and start construction on the Diversion Inlet Structure
  • Manufacture components and start construction on the Wild Rice River Structure
  • Start construction of the Western Tieback
  • Start non-construction design and mitigation work in North Dakota and Minnesota.

“With the Red River, Sheyenne and Maple Rivers all at flood stage, this is a very welcome ruling for our residents,” Board Chair and Cass County Commissioner Mary Scherling said. “We hope this ruling addresses the concerns expressed by appropriators in Bismarck.”.

“We will comply with all permit requirements and will work together with regulatory entities to ensure this project protects our communities, the environment, and meets all local, state and federal laws,” Scherling said.
“We have been diligently working with the DNR through this process to ensure that Minnesota citizens, its laws, and its environment are adequately protected,” said Kevin Campbell, Vice-Chair of the Diversion Authority and Clay County Commissioner. “Today was another step in the right direction.”

April 10, 2019

Become a Local 49 Steward

Become a Local 49 Steward

Interested in becoming a Local 49 Steward? Attend the Local 49 Steward Training Class!

The Steward training is intended for members employed In the public sector, individual shop, and sand and gravel industries.
The training is not intended for members working under the Builders, Highway and Heavy, or Pipeline agreements; but Local 49 welcomes all members interested in learning how to be an advocate in their workplace

When: Tuesday, April 30 from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Where: Local 49 Minneapolis Hall – 2829 Anthony Lane South Minneapolis, MN 55418

Topics Covered Include:

  • Steward rights, roles and responsibilities
  • How to conduct a grievance investigation
  • Writing and presenting grievances
  • Day-to-day problem solving

Dinner will be provided at the class. To RSVP for the class please e-mail your name and the name of your employer to

Please RSVP to the Steward Training Class by Sunday, April 28.

March 21, 2019