Local 49 Northern Area Picnic

Local 49 Northern Area Picnic

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


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

July 11, 2019

Local 49 Members Working Together for 20 Years

Local 49 Members Working Together for 20 Years

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

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

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

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

(from left) Victor Yamry and Dan Sapp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(left) Adam Sapp and his father Dan Sapp.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 2, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holly says she also enjoys working with her mother.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 11, 2019

Local 49 Members Invited to First IUOE Sisters Leadership Conference

Local 49 Members Invited to First IUOE Sisters Leadership Conference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 7, 2019

MN Legislative Session Final Results

MN Legislative Session Final Results

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the final result on issues we worked on:

Transportation Funding

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

Pipeline Worker Safety Bill

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

Unreimbursed Travel Expenses

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

Helmets to Hardhats

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

Duluth Essentia Hospital Expansion

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

Prevailing Wage Requirement on Wind Projects

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

Local Government Aid/County Aid/Local Sales Tax Approval

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

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

Policy to Help Loggers

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

Wage Theft Penalties Increased

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

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

In solidarity,

Jason George

Business Manager


May 29, 2019

Heavy Equipment Operator by Day; Action Sports Star by Night

Heavy Equipment Operator by Day; Action Sports Star by Night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tyler front-flipping a snowmobile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 28, 2019

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 WomenOfLocal49@gmail.com

The agenda for the 2019 Trades Women Build Nations Conference has yet to be release, but more information can be found at www.nabtu.org/twbn


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: www.allianzlife.com

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 www.local49.org


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 fmdiversion.com


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 sstellrecht@local49.org

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

March 21, 2019

Member Story: Second Generation Crane Operator James Halle. Jr.

Member Story: Second Generation Crane Operator James Halle. Jr.

Second generation Local 49 member, James Halle Jr. from New Hope, Minnesota, began his training as a crane operator learning from the best – his father. Halle’s father was a member of Local 49 and a crane operator for 40 years.

“My dad would take me to job sites on weekends, and I was always around cranes so getting into the industry was a natural transition for me,” Halle said.

Halle didn’t always think he would be a crane operator. After graduating high school he went to college to study law enforcement, but quickly realized he belonged back in the seat.

James Halle Jr. Operating on the Washington Ave. Project in Minneapolis

“I always had the natural skill of a crane operator, and I knew a lot of the people in the industry,” he said. “I bounced around a couple companies in my younger years, and built up my own name separate from my dad.”

“A lot of people had high expectations of me to produce good work right off the bat because of my dad,” he added.

Now with 22 years of experience as a crane operator, Halle has worked on major projects such as the Xcel Energy Center, the DECK Center in Duluth, Target Field, and U.S. Bank Stadium.

“I actually got to work with my dad when they were building the Xcel Energy Center so that was a great experience that I’ll never forget,” he said.

Halle said he loves being able to drive anywhere in Minnesota and knowing that he helped build such monumental structures.

“It’s nice to be able to tell my twin boys, ‘Hey look I worked here, and they get see these huge structures that I was a part of creating,” he said.

Halle also has experience on other type of projects and operating different types of cranes. Working for Northwest Tower Crane he was a part of many structural steel jobs such as the new Target office operating a crawler crane and has worked on projects operating a hydro crane. He also has traveled throughout North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa on several wind turbine projects.

“Working on wind towers can be difficult because sometimes you’re getting into these older friction cranes, and you don’t have electronics to tell you how close you are so you have to do the work by feel,” Halle explained. “Your job is also based on how windy it is, because if it’s too windy you can’t work.

Halle continued to explain that with hydro crane you have to be gentle with it because they can move quick, and are slightly more touchy than other types of cranes.

Halle is currently working on the Washington Avenue project in Minneapolis for Frana Companies operating a tower crane. He said that operating a tower crane is a completely different animal.

“I’m taking everything I’ve learned for the past 20 years and pushing it to the side, because sitting in a crane 100 feet off the ground swaying back and forth is so different, but I love it,” he said. “Some days you can be busy all day long and other days you’re just sitting there.”

“You’re also the main crane on the job and you have other trades calling on you,” Halle added. “Tower crane operators are the first ones on the job site, because you have to climb up early in the morning and you’re the last one on the job.”

Halle said that the key to being a crane operator is to never stop learning, and to always pass the knowledge on.

“When I have an oiler that’s new I like teaching them, and until they get in the seat and run the crane they’re not going to learn,” he said. “Pass along the knowledge from the previous generation to the new generation.”

He encourages the younger generation to begin a career as a heavy equipment operator and stresses that going to college isn’t the only option.

“Two years out of high school I made $200,000 and the other kids I graduated with are in debt $200,000 with a four year degree and don’t have a job to show for it,” he said.

Halle says that a career as a crane operator can be stressful, but if you like to constantly be on the go and have each day be different than being a crane operator would be a perfect fit.

“I grew up playing in the sand box, and I’m still playing in the sand box but the toys got bigger and the sand box got bigger,” he said with a laugh

For more stories like James’ visit www.local49.org


March 13, 2019

Order Your Local 49 Gear Online

Order Your Local 49 Gear Online

Order your USA/Union made Local 49 gear online! Free shipping on all orders!

There are a variety of sizes and styles for men and women, and each item can be customized with different Local 49 logos. More clothing items will be added soon!  Click here to order your Local 49 gear now!

See an item we don’t offer, but think we should? Submit your clothing ideas here.

Items cannot be returned if a logo is added to a clothing item. Local 49 is not responsible for any order or shipment errors. Contact Union House for additional questions or concerns at 651-462-7710 or e-mail at max@unionlabel.com Orders placed online normally filled and shipped within ten workdays, delays in shipping due to clothing availability may occur. 

Here are examples of some of the clothing items available. Click here to view more!

February 28, 2019

RSVP to Local 49 Lobby Day

RSVP to Local 49 Lobby Day

Lobby Day will be on Wednesday April 3, 2019 from 9:30 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.

Every member that attends will receive a Local 49 embroidered pullover jacket

CLICK HERE TO RSVP! You Must RSVP by March 29, 2019.

Lobby Day Agenda

9:30 – 10 am: Arrive at Union Hall.
10:00 – 10:45 am: Short introduction and lunch.
10:45 am: Board busses to Capitol.
11:30 am – 3:00 pm: Meet with your legislators (appointments are arranged for you ahead of time).
3:30 – 4 pm: Rally in the Capitol’s Rotunda.
4:15 pm: Busses depart from the Capitol.

Click here for more information

February 28, 2019

Local 49 Supports Bold Transportation Infrastructure Bill

Local 49 Supports Bold Transportation Infrastructure Bill

Today is a historic moment and opportunity for the State of Minnesota. Governor Walz has put forward a budget that invests the money required to rebuild the crumbling infrastructure of our state. This effort will benefit businesses and local communities throughout Minnesota, as well as create thousands of good paying Union construction jobs for families in every corner of our state.

Raising the gasoline tax, tab fees, and motor vehicle sales tax are the only way to put new money into the system that is 100% guaranteed to be used to build infrastructure. The proposed increases are responsible, reasonable, and necessary if we are going to really and finally rebuild our state. We believe taxpayers are willing to pay more to ensure that they have safe roads to travel on, our bridges don’t collapse, and that our people can move around freely in our transit systems.

Governor Walz is leading on this issue. He has put forward an honest proposal, one that doesn’t pretend we can fix our infrastructure without spending money to do so. We stand behind him in this effort, and will be calling on Legislators from both Chambers to find a way to get this done.

Quote from Jason George, Business Manager, IUOE Local 49:

“I understand some of my friends on the Republican side of the aisle are going to have heartburn about this proposal. I challenge them to come to the table, talk to the Governor, and figure out a way to get something impactful done. The time for political talking points is over. This isn’t a time to play to political bases. Our infrastructure is crumbling, money and time is wasted in traffic gridlock, and thousands of construction careers are at stake – the time to do something about this is now.”


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

Click here to view Governor Walz’s Transportation Infrastructure Plan.

February 19, 2019

Thank You to Public and Private Sector Snow Plow Operators

Thank You to Public and Private Sector Snow Plow Operators

Thank you to the private and public sector snow plow operators for all your efforts to clear our roads and parking lots. You work long hours doing dangerous work all to ensure the safety of others. We are proud to represent these hard working men and women.

“People in our region depend on our public sector snow plow operators to make the way for us to get around as safely as possible during these challenging snow events. We are proud to represent more than 2,000 of these hard working men and women. During the last few weeks of heavy snow, they have put in long hours under dangerous conditions, and they deserve our gratitude and thanks. In addition, I want to thank the private sector snow removal companies that plow our parking lots, many of those people are also members of ours, and they too work long hours and provide a tremendous service in dangerous conditions. If you see these workers out in your community thank them, and when you have the opportunity, support them. They support all of us every day,” said Jason George, Local 49 Business Manager

February 12, 2019

Local 49 Responds to Gov. Walz’s Decision on Enbridge Line 3

Local 49 Responds to Gov. Walz’s Decision on Enbridge Line 3

IUOE Local 49 issued the following press release in response to Governor Walz’s decision to continue the legal challenge of the Enbridge Line 3 Project:

Responsible, large-scale privately funded infrastructure projects don’t happen often and don’t occur overnight. The process to evaluate and vet the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement project was a thorough one that balanced environmental, regulatory, community, and economic concerns. IUOE Local 49 is disappointed in Governor Walz’s decision to challenge the results of this process. However, we are confident that this lawsuit is without merit. This project will be built and the thousands of Union construction workers waiting to get to work will do so later this year.

The timing of this announcement comes as actions of environmental extremist groups plague our state. Just last week, extremists broke into a facility with the intention of shutting down an active pipeline and we received two reports from contractors that their equipment was vandalized because of their work near pipelines. Reasonable people can disagree about important issues, but there is no place for this kind of extremism, and we are concerned that the decision to move forward with this lawsuit will only increase it. IUOE Local 49 stands strong against this violence and cannot support policies that seemingly bow to these tactics.

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

“Governor Walz is our friend and we support him. However, real friends will tell you when they think you are wrong, and on this issue, we have respectfully let the Governor know we strongly disagree with his decision. Continuing this lawsuit is bad public policy and encourages environmental extremism. We cannot support the Governor’s decision, and are disappointed today.”


View the press release here.

February 12, 2019

The Luukkonen Legacy – Three Generations of Local 49 Members

The Luukkonen Legacy – Three Generations of Local 49 Members

Photo (from left) John Luukkonen, Chris Luukkonen, Mike Luukkonen, Rick Luukkonen, Robert Luukkonen, Josh Luukkonen, Tim Luukkonen.


The Luukkonen family out of Virginia, MN can trace their union roots all the way back to the early 1940s. More than 20 family members have been members of Local 49.

John and Mike Luukkonen have each been members of Local 49 for more than 40 years and are the co-founders of the custom crushing and screening company Nothing’s Too Tough (NTT).

“When it comes to crushing, Nothing’s Too Tough, and that’s how it all began,” John said. John’s wife, Patrice, has a more fitting name for the company. “I always said No Time Today,” she said with a laugh.

The Luukkonens know that when you work for a crushing and screening company, you work seven days a week; you’re on call 24/7, and you work all year-round.

“Most of us were taught by our parents how to do this work; it’s always been ‘hey you’re not sitting at home today; you’re coming out to work,’” said Robert Luukkonen, a second generation crusher and 40-year member.

Their job in the mines is to screen pellets to take the fines out of them so that the mines can ship those materials to two different types of steel mills.

“The pellets made high quality steel some of which is used for automobiles, and the fines that we screen out of the pellets would go to make appliance items,” Robert explained.

Josh Luukkonen, Robert’s son, and a five-year member, explained that working year-round and always being on call is one of the toughest parts of the job.

“You could get a call at any moment by the mining companies. If they call at 2:00 a.m. saying they are broken down and need a conveyor to put materials in a plant, you have to go; otherwise they’ll just call someone else,” he said.

Josh explained that on the job site, you are also working in conjunction with the miners, so you have to build those relationships.

“You work side by side with them. Sometimes we have hoppers and conveyors set up into the plant, and the miners feed the hopper, and we would watch the belts and clean up,” Josh explained.

“Other jobs we’d be there screening or crushing, and the miners would be there to pick up what we’re screening and what’s coming off of our conveyors,” he added.

John and Mike started NTT in 1987 with four other partners and became sole owners in 1991.

“Well, you know you go to the bar; and you start talking, and we thought—hey we can do that,” Mike said with a laugh.

“When we first started, it was tough, but it got easier as we became more established, ” Mike added. “We always maintained a high level of work, and our guys always got paid on time.”

Since NTT’s inception, John and Mike made it a priority to keep it a union company.

“With the union, you have the most qualified people,” John said. “We would never hire anyone else because we have high standards. This is a legacy, and we intend to keep it that way.”

John also stated that having the benefits package with Local 49 was a contributing factor to NTT’s long-term success.

“The union offers security, good pay for workers, great benefits, and a great pension. You can’t beat it,” he said.

John and Mike recently sold NTT last year to a new owner, Aaran Leustek. They said that they would have never sold it if the new owner wouldn’t keep their employees and maintain the high standards that NTT has set for the last 30 years.

“We have a good reputation out there, and we wanted to make sure it was going into the hands of someone who would keep it that way,” John said.

While the type of work is tough, the Luukkonens take pride in their long family history in the business and in Local 49. They are even a staple in the northern Minnesota Local 49 summer picnic as the builders of the BBQ grill that is used to cook the food for the picnic.

John and Mike built the grill in 1991, and for more than 25 years, their employees are the ones who cook the food. NTT has also donated dozens of prizes for the event over the years.

(left) Robert and Rick Luukkonen standing with Local 49 Business Agent Dan Snidarich who presented them with their 40 year service pin.

Dan Snidarich, Local 49 Virginia Area Business Agent, spoke highly of the Luukkonen family saying, “They’re good union members, but they’re also just really great people, and their pedigree is at the highest level.”

Chris Luukkonen, who is the second oldest next to John, recently retired and worked 40 years as a 49er in the blacktop industry.

In addition to working on crushers, Ricky Luukkonen worked in the marine division of Local 49 for 20 years.

The Luukkonens will continue the family tradition of being in the crushing business and being proud long-standing members of Local 49.

“This is a legacy. My grandfather was a 49er. My dad is; all of my uncles and cousins are as well so it’s an honor to be a part of something this big and be able to contribute to it,” Josh said.

For more stories like the Luukkonens’, visit www.local49.org




February 5, 2019

Nominate Women Members of Local 49 for Women Building Success Awards

Nominate Women Members of Local 49 for Women Building Success Awards

Do you know an outstanding woman member of Local 49? Nominate them for a Women Building Success Award!

There are three nomination categories: Apprentice of the Year, Journeyworker of the Year and Women’s Advocate of the Year. The nomination deadline is Friday, February 15, 2019. To nominate an outstanding woman member of Local 49 please fill out this form and e-mail it to jenny@mplsbctc.org

Last year Local 49 apprentice Akeethia Brown won the Apprentice of the Year award. We hope another one of our amazing women members win again this year.

The annual Women Building Success event honors outstanding women workers in the local building trades, and celebrates all of the achievements women have made in the industry. The event will be hosted on March 6, 2019 at Surly Brewing Company. Men and women are invited to attend the event. Contact jenny@mplsbctc.org for more information.

February 4, 2019