Local 49 Reacts to Public Utilities Commission Line 3 Replacement Project Route Permit Reconsideration Hearing

Local 49 Reacts to Public Utilities Commission Line 3 Replacement Project Route Permit Reconsideration Hearing

Local 49  today released the following statement in response to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) decision not to reconsider the issuance of the Line 3 Replacement Project’s Route Permit.

Local 49 Business Manager Jason George released the following statement, “Today is a milestone for the Line 3 replacement project. The MNPUC process is over. We thank the MNPUC for a thorough review of this project and for following the facts of the case. I would like to personally thank our members. You showed up to hearing for 4 years, you demonstrated your professionalism, your pride in our craft, and the care with which you build projects like Line 3. I can’t wait for 49ers to start moving dirt on this project in 2019!”


December 13, 2018

Local 49 Rally Against Outsourcing Jobs, PUC Decides to Table Decision on Bitter Root Wind Energy Project

Local 49 Rally Against Outsourcing Jobs, PUC Decides to Table Decision on Bitter Root Wind Energy Project

Local 49 as well as a coalition of labor unions and clean energy advocates prevailed today as the Minnesota Public Utilities commission (PUC) voted unanimously to place the site permit decision on hold for the controversial Bitter Root RES Wind Project in an attempt to address the issue of labor outsourcing on Minnesota construction workers.

Labor officials and clean energy advocates spoke out at a rally today at the PUC against the outsourcing of wind energy construction jobs, and held a press conference calling on the PUC to withhold the permit for the Bitter Root Wind Energy Project. The PUC decided to place the permit on hold, and they will now move forward with a contested case proceeding.  The parties involved, with the assistance of the Department of Labor, will work to address the issues brought up today at the hearing in an attempt to resolve this before the contested case proceeding.

RES Americas, which needed PUC approval to build the 150 megawatt Bitter Root Wind in Yellow Medicine County, relies heavily on out-of-state worker to build wind energy projects and has played a game of “bait-and-switch” with Minnesota workers.

Jason George, Local 49 Business Manager, said during the press conference, “We have a long history of building the energy infrastructure in this state with local and skilled trade workers. That’s the standard that we have for any new industry that comes  here. If the renewable energy industry wants to expand here, which we support, they need to meet that standard. They can’t use national contractors to bring in workers from other states that pay less than what we make here in area wage standards. When they outsource jobs it results in displacing local workers that earn a good wage here in Minnesota, that’s not right, and I don’t think Minnesotans support that.”

An analysis of Bitter Root Wind prepared by North Star Policy Institute, a progressive think tank, found that the project could result in a net loss of jobs and millions of dollars in economic development by crowding out competing wind energy projects that might have put more Minnesotans to work.

Clean energy advocates – including Melissa Hortman, incoming Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives, and Blue Green Alliance, whose members include Sierra Club, and other leading environmental organizations – have also criticized outsourcing of clean energy jobs and urged the PUC to put the project on hold.


Photo: (from left)
Chris Chantry,  Metro Area Public Sector Business Agent, Tom Thompson, Metro Area Business Agent, Jason George, Local 49 Business Manager, Steve Piper, Southwest Metro Business Agent, Ferlin Miller, Southeast Metro Business Agent, Nathan Sogge, Northwest Metro Business Agent, and Victor Ruzynski, North Metro Business Agent. 

December 6, 2018

Ground Broken for Southwest Light Rail Line

Ground Broken for Southwest Light Rail Line

The largest public sector project in Minnesota broke ground today. Representatives from Local 49 were in attendance at the Southwest Light Rail Line (SWLRT) groundbreaking ceremony held in Hopkins at the site of the future SWLRT support facility.

The Southwest Light Rail project will create 7,500 construction jobs, and have 16 stations starting in Minneapolis and ending in Eden Prairie.

Jason George, Local 49 Business Manager, said, “The groundbreaking of the Southwest Light Rail Line project marks a monumental day for members of Local 49. This project has been something that we have long advocated for, as it will bring thousands of union construction jobs to our members. We’re proud to be a part of another historic project that will be a pivotal fixture in the Twin Cities for years to come.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Tina Smith, Representative Keith Ellison, and other government officials instrumental in the project spoke at the historic groundbreaking ceremony.

Peter McLaughlin, Hennepin County Commissioner, commended labor for their efforts in making this project possible.

“Organized labor fought to build this and make this happen. We are so lucky to have skilled trades people in our state to build this,” McLaughlin said.

The SWLRT is expected to start carrying passengers in 2023.

November 30, 2018

Midterm Election Results

Midterm Election Results

On Tuesday, November 6, 2018, important elections took place in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and across the country. We were actively involved in a number of these races, and our hard work during this election cycle saw positive results for labor and working families.

Thank you to all the members and your families who volunteered during this election cycle to ensure that labor friendly candidates were elected and that union member’s voices were heard. These candidates understand that only with the support of labor will they succeed and it showed this election cycle. We will continue our tradition of working with politicians from both sides of the aisle who understand that jobs are not a partisan issue, and whose actions support the brothers and sisters of Local 49. Thank you for all your efforts this election, the results are something to be proud of.

Jason George, Local 49 Business Manager, said, “I am very proud of our collective efforts this election cycle. Local 49 contributed financially, and the boots on the ground efforts to support our endorsed candidates made this election successful. We need to get past partisan politics, and get to a place where our jobs and our Union rights are not political footballs. We are leading the way with our non-partisan approach to politics and we will continue with this approach in the future. Now that the elections are over, we are well positioned to work on creating jobs in all the industries our members work in. Thank you to all the members who voted and helped during this important election cycle.”

Election Re-Cap

Nationally the United States Senate remained under Republican control as they were able to hold their majority. The United States House of Representatives flipped from Republican control to Democrat control following the election with Democrats picking up enough seats to surpass the 218 needed for majority control.

Minnesota Governor
As the first union to endorse Governor-Elect Tim Walz (DFL) it was a priority to get Tim elected and we did it. Tim prevailed over Jeff Johnson (R) to be Minnesota’s next Governor by a margin of 54 percent to 42 percent. Tim has proven that he is a strong ally of labor who will fight for the issues that matter to us and our families. We are excited to work with Tim to make sure that our interests and priorities are heard. We thank all of our members who volunteered and contributed in some way to Tim’s campaign to ensure his victory.

U.S. Senate – Minnesota 

Senator Amy Klobuchar (DFL) retained her seat for a third term in a resounding 60 percent to 36 percent victory over Jim Newberger (R).

In her Special Election Tina Smith (DFL) prevailed over Karin Housley (R) by a margin of 53 percent to 42 percent. Senator Smith will continue her work as Senator after being appointed by Governor Mark Dayton to fill the vacancy left by former Senator Al Franken’s resignation. Senator Smith will serve the remaining two years of Franken’s term before being up for re-election.

CD – 1 

In the 1st Congressional District Jim Hagedorn (R) narrowly defeated Dan Feehan (DFL) 50.13 percent to 49.68 percent in a tight race for the seat formerly held by Tim Walz. This represents one of the few House seats in the country that flipped from Democrat to Republican.

CD – 2

In the 2nd Congressional District Angie Craig (DFL) defeated incumbent and Local 49 endorsed candidate Jason Lewis (R) 53 percent to 47 percent. Local 49 endorsed Angie in 2016 and trusts that she will work with us and be an advocate for working families.

CD – 3

In the 3rd Congressional District Dean Phillips (DFL) handily defeated long time incumbent Erik Paulsen (R) 55.7 percent to 44.3 percent. It was long overdue that this district have a fresh voice that represents our interests and we believe that Dean will be that voice.

CD – 4

In the 4th Congressional District Incumbent Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL) defeated Greg Ryan (R) 66 percent to 29.8 percent to retain her seat. Local 49 did not endorse either candidate.

CD – 5 

In the 5th Congressional District Local 49 endorsed State Representative Ilhan Omar (DFL) who defeated Jennifer Zielinski (R) 78.2 percent to 21.8 percent.

CD – 6

In the 6th Congressional District Local 49 endorsed incumbent Congressman Tom Emmer (R) who defeated Ian Todd (DFL) 61 percent to 38 percent. Congressman Emmer has been a supporter of Local 49’s priorities and we look forward to continue working with him.

CD – 7

In the 7th Congressional District Local 49 endorsed Congressman Collin Peterson (DFL) for re-election. Congressman Peterson defeated Dave Hughes (R) 52.1 percent to 47.9 percent to retain his seat for an amazing 20th term representing western Minnesota.

CD – 8

In one of the most nationally watched House races in the country, Pete Stauber (R) defeated Joe Radinovich (DFL) 50.7 percent to 45.2 percent in what represents one of only a couple House seats that flipped from Democrat to Republican. While Local 49 did not endorse in this race, we believe that Pete will be a strong advocate for labor.

Attorney General: Keith Ellison (DFL) defeated Doug Wardlow (R) 49 percent to 45 percent.

Secretary of State: Steve Simon (DFL) was re-elected to a second term 52 percent to 44 percent over John Howe (R).

State Auditor: Former AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer and union member Julie Blaha (DFL) prevailed over Pam Myhra (R) 49 percent to 43 percent.

Minnesota House of Representatives

This election cycle Local 49 endorsed 76 candidates from both sides of the aisle for the Minnesota House of Representatives. Of those 76 candidates, 63 prevailed in their elections. Additionally, the House flipped from Republican to Democrat control with House Democrats picking up 18 seats ensuring the majority control with 75 seats.

North Dakota

In North Dakota Local 49 endorsed Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D), who lost her bid for re-election to Kevin Cramer (R) by a margin of 55.4 percent to 44.6 percent. In the U.S. House race Local 49 endorsed Mac Schneider (D) who lost to Kelly Armstrong (R) 60.3 percent to 35.6 percent.

South Dakota

In South Dakota Local 49 endorsed Billie Sutton (D) for Governor. Even though Billie lost to Kristi Noem (R) 51 percent to 47.6 percent, he ran a strong campaign built on many of the same beliefs that we hold as union members.

Local 49 Members Running for Office 

Three of our Local 49 brothers also ran for local office:

– Dan Kingsley ran for Hill City, MN Mayor. Dan won his election and we congratulate him.

– Paul Anspach ran for Clarkfield, MN City Council. Unfortunately, he lost his election.

– Robert “Bob” Pontinen ran for Gilbert, MN City Council. Unfortunately, he lost his election.

Local 49 would again like to thank everyone who was able to get out and support our endorsed candidates!

November 8, 2018

2018 Minnesota Session Recap

2018 Minnesota Session Recap

The MN Legislative Session ended last night around Midnight, below is brief recap of what happened on key issues for 49ers.

Transportation Amendment

The constitutional amendment for long term dedicated transportation infrastructure funding fell short. It passed the House with a strong majority, including 2 democrats, but fell short in the Senate. This didn’t get done in the Senate because we had a couple of Republican holdouts, and the DFL Senators would not offer any support.

We fought hard, you all did a great job raising your voices, and we almost got this done. We must never stop fighting for infrastructure funding. Our state needs to build, and the jobs created are too important for families like yours.

All was not lost. Because of the pressure you put on the Legislature to do something – they ended up passing a massive $1.5 billion bonding bill with close to $500 million in additional funding for road and bridge construction. This was a major victory, more on that below. In addition, the auto part sales tax is going to continue to go to the highway trust account for now because of what we did last year, and there was also hundreds of millions in cash and bonding for transportation last year too.

We will continue to try to find a long term solution, but because of your work last year and this year, the next few years should be very good for infrastructure jobs.

Tax issue

Good news and bad news here. They passed a second tax bill after the Governor vetoed the first one, and all deductions at the state level were kept in place, including for unreimbursed travel expenses and union dues. However, the Governor has indicated publicly that he is going to veto the bill. He has 14 days to decide, hopefully he changes his mind.

Wind reporting language

We came to an agreement with the wind and solar industry on some reporting language late in session. However there were some objections by a couple utilities, and we just couldn’t get this done this year. In fairness, it took longer than we thought to reach an agreement, so we didn’t have time to go through the normal process. We are set up to get this done next year, and the relationships that we are forming with wind and solar developers, utilities, and contractors will be valuable as we move forward.

Bonding Bill

The bonding bill was a major victory this year. It started at $825 million total with most of that for roads and bridges. We ended up with $825 million for traditional building and maintenance projects, close to $500 million for roads and bridges, and an additional $120 million to build waste water treatment facilities. This combined with last year’s $1 billion bonding bill is a major step forward for infrastructure projects in MN. This will help most everyone in our union, the public sector cities and counties will see more money flowing down for projects and maintenance, The new waste water treatment facilities will be great for construction and members that operate those facilities, the builders side will see more projects, the highway/heavy will see a lot more projects and the equipment dealers should see increased business.

This is the most bonding money in a two year period in Minnesota history, by a wide margin. We didn’t get long term funding done, but because of the pressure we put on the Legislature, we have secured a lot of work for the next few years. There should be no reason the Governor won’t sign this bill, he hasn’t commented on it yet, but indications are good.

Other jobs bills

The Essentia Hospital expansion and local sales tax for roads in Duluth did not get done. This was a disappointment, the result of horse trading at the end and it just didn’t happen.

The 2nd wild rice bill passed both the House and Senate again, but we are hearing the Governor is going to veto it again. This bill would have prevented the state from implementing a sulfate standard that has no scientific basis and would cripple the mines up north and small towns with outdated waste water facilities. We hope the Governor changes his mind, this was a fair compromise, and he should sign the bill.

The Governor vetoed the Line 3 bill that would have permitted the project outside of the PUC process. This bill was more of a statement than an actual proposal, and the Governor told them all session he would veto it so no surprise there. Line 3 will be decided by the PUC in June.

Pension bill

The public sector Pension bill passed both the House and Senate and is on its way to the Governor and he will sign it. This bill will solidify PERA, and also has an important fix for the St. Paul city 49ers pension.

Overall, this session was pretty tough. The Governor seems poised to veto most of the bills. But the bonding bill and pension bill are two major victories and a step forward. Stay tuned to see what the Governor does in the coming days.

Improvements to the Workers Compensation Program

The Workers Compensation bill which passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate and is now law – signed by Governor Dayton yesterday.

May 22, 2018

International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 Endorses Tim Walz for Minnesota Governor

International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 Endorses Tim Walz for Minnesota Governor

IUOE Local 49 issued the following statement to the media regarding our endorsement of Tim Walz for Governor of Minnesota. 

Today we are proud to announce after very careful consideration we are endorsing Tim Walz for Governor in Minnesota. We have many friends that have declared for this race or were thinking about a run. Because of that, we made sure to put together a thorough member driven endorsement process that would ensure all candidates had a fair shot at earning the support of our union.

Our screening committee had members from every corner of the state representing every industry that we work in. We invited all candidates that were declared and those friends who were thinking of running, from both political parties. We went to all of our union meetings in Minnesota to talk to members about the endorsement and get their feedback. Finally, every member of our union had a chance to vote on the recommendation of the committee online. The members strongly supported this endorsement, and we are proud of the inclusive process we put together to make this decision.

Local 49 was one of the first unions to endorse Tim Walz when he was a local football coach and teacher looking to unseat an entrenched incumbent Republican Congressman in the heavily Republican 1st District. Incumbents in districts that slant to their party win 99% of the time. Tim managed to defy the odds and win that race, and has fended off challengers every year since. He won because he is just like all of us. He is our neighbor, our kids teacher, our kids coach, someone that can relate to our concerns.

Tim has demonstrated his support for the blue collar workers of his district and of this nation with his strong commitment to infrastructure jobs, and his unwavering commitment to critical labor issues like prevailing wage laws that ensure construction workers earn a good days pay for a hard days work. He has also earned our respect with his long service to his nation in the Minnesota National Guard. No other industry in Minnesota has a higher percentage of veterans among its workforce than construction, and our members greatly value service to our nation.

We are proud to say that after winning his first race, and fighting for blue collar construction workers as an elected official for more than a decade, he is still the same person that ran the first time. Politics almost always changes people. Politics hasn’t changed Tim Walz, and we are incredibly proud to stand with him in this new adventure. We are also excited to support Tim’s running mate, State Representative Peggy Flanagan. We don’t have a long history with Peggy, but we are getting to know her, and her intelligence and authenticity are unmistakable. We don’t align on every issue, but with Peggy, it is clear that she believes in what she and Tim are talking about on the trail – the need to bring people together, get beyond talking points rhetoric, and find solutions to complicated problems to get things done. We believe in that vision as well, and look forward to those conversations along the way. Lastly, we want to point out another factor in our endorsement.

We believe Tim Walz is the candidate in the race most likely to bring urban and rural communities together. We have been critical of some in the DFL party in recent years because in our view, they have not paid enough attention to the concerns of people outside the metro area. There are some DFL activists who believe they can win elections simply by appealing to the big cities and ignoring rural voters. Our members are those rural voters, and that thinking has completely divided the DFL party. Tim Walz is trying to get beyond those divides. He will speak to rural voters concerns because he is a rural voter, and he ran and won in a rural district. Now more than ever it is critical for all candidates from either party to be thinking about how we unite people and how we stop dividing them.

Tim Walz is that candidate in our judgement. Our close to 14,000 members are the backbone of this state. They get up every day and build and maintain the infrastructure that allows us all to enjoy a great quality of life in Minnesota. We know that Tim Walz understands who we are, and we know he has our back. We are proud to get his back now, helping him become the next Governor of the great state of Minnesota.

February 6, 2018

Iowa labor activists gives warning that “insanity” may be on its way to Minnesota

AFSCME Council 5 recently published an article regarding the fight against Right-to Work in Iowa.


DULUTH – Danny Homan says he’d give up his right arm to not have to tell AFSCME Council 5 members the story he was about to tell.
“This hurts,” he says. “What they have done to public employees in Iowa, 184,000 of them, is criminal.”
Homan is the president of AFSCME Council 61 in Iowa. He spoke at the Council 5 statewide Annual Convention in Duluth Oct. 6.
Homan says he’s not scared of “right to work,” which Iowa’s been since 1947. It’s what has happened in the past seven months that’s been so appalling.
“The Republicans took control, and they became drunk on power. The problem is, they had not found AA,” Homan says. “There is not a Democrat in our state that has voted for any of the insanity that’s going on in Iowa.”
A half dozen GOP legislators developed anti-union legislation behind closed doors, supported by the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity. The lawmakers kept telling AFSCME leaders the bill wasn’t ready for viewing.
Then they unveiled it on Feb. 7, managed to simultaneously march it through the GOP-led House and Senate in just 12 hours, and approved it on Feb. 16. Republican Gov. Terry Branstad signed it into law the next day.
Public sector unions could no longer deduct dues from worker paychecks – even though it was still OK to deduct for credit card bills, United Way, vision and dental. Before every new contract negotiation, locals had to recertify – at union expense.
“There was no three-year phase-in period,” Homan says. “Our rights were taken away immediately.”
Public sector unions could still negotiate base wages, but the list of what most public sector unions (outside of police and fire) could not negotiate was long:
• Wages including steps
• Health insurance
• Evaluation and grievance procedures
• Retirement systems
• Leaves for political activity
• Uniforms
• Staff reduction procedures
• Supplemental pay
• Privatization
Starting in October, Council 61 will have to hold 40 recertification elections for 40 bargaining units; the Iowa State Education Association has to hold 2,040.
Iowa Republicans also barred counties from raising the minimum wage; gutted workers’ compensation; required both photo identification and signature verification at the polls; limited the right to sue for medical malpractice or asbestos; defunded Planned Parenthood; and made deep cuts in services.
“This group of Republican bandits has taken a $950 million surplus seven years ago and turned into $350 million deficit,” Homan says.
Back in 2016, Homan expected bad news was coming as soon as he heard the election results: “I knew at 3 o’clock in the morning we were screwed. I believed they would do to us what they did in Wisconsin: This is Wisconsin on steroids.”
But Homan and Council 61 refused to quit.
“I get up and do a job I thoroughly love and do a job where I fight for people, some of whom can’t fight for themselves,” he says. “That’s what all of you do. I’m going to fight every day of my life until I retire to get those rights back for my membership.”
Council 61 had learned by watching what happened when Gov. Scott Walker set out to destroy unions in Wisconsin.
“All we got by taking control of that state Capitol is we got smelly,” Homan says. “We couldn’t win the fight that way.”
Homan directed workers and leaders to extend every contract they could: They succeeded with all but 15.
Instead of holding massive rallies, members took legislators on where they live in their home communities. They packed town hall meetings with 200 to 300 people confronting Republican legislators and supporting Democrats who had supported them. Council 61 figured out how to let members pay dues by credit card.
Homan, who routinely holds 90 town hall meetings a year with members, continued doing so, but used the time to warn them about what was coming and to listen.
The state contract, which was a book a year ago, is now down to a single page plus a lot of job classifications. Yet Council 61 signed back up 5,500 members, and more than 2,000 are now MVPs (strong contributors to their political action committee).
“The employer cannot take your union away from you,” Homan says. “Only you can give it up. I’ll be goddamned if I’m giving up my union. I don’t want your pity. In Iowa, we are going to kick their ass in November. We are going to take charge of our state.”
He challenged AFSCME Council 5 members to talk to feepayers and other members, and to turn out in force next November to vote.
“If you lose your next governor’s election and your House and Senate maintain the same makeup, you will have this bill here in Minnesota. I don’t want that for anybody,” he says. “The only way we’re going to survive is if we lock arms . We’re going to fight, and we’re going to be here, and we’re going to continue to support our union.”
Leaving Duluth Homan was off to the Oregon AFL-CIO convention with his message. “I’m here to tell you to get off your ass and get engaged and do the work so that this doesn’t happen here,” the Northwest Labor Press quoted him as saying to those delegates.

October 31, 2017

Heitkamp Voices Support for F-M Flood Protections

Heitkamp Voices Support for F-M Flood Protections


Heitkamp Joins U.S. Army Corps Leaders and Local Officials in Fargo for Agreement Signing to Implement Lasting Fargo-Moorhead Flood Protections


 Long a Champion of Red River Valley Flood Protections, Senator Helped Secure Key Federal Resources for Permanent Solutions, including new Construction Start


FARGO, N.D. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, long an advocate for strong, lasting flood protection solutions in North Dakota, today joined key U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials in Fargo for the official signing of an agreement to initiate construction of the Fargo-Moorhead diversion.

Today’s agreement sets in motion the permanent Red River Valley flood control efforts Heitkamp has long been pushing toward, including securing strong federal resources for the Army Corps to implement new construction starts in the year-end spending bill Congress passed, and successfully pressing the head of the Army Corps and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for flood protections and a new construction start for Fargo in the Corps’ 2016 work plan earlier this year. As a result of today’s partnership, the federal support Heitkamp helped secure will be formally committed to constructing the Fargo-Moorhead diversion, clearing the path to break ground on the project.

“When disasters like flooding hit North Dakota communities, we pull together to rebuild stronger than ever, and today’s agreement puts those plans into motion,” said Heitkamp. “Today, I’m proud to join the Army Corps along with Fargo and Moorhead leaders for this important step toward lasting solutions that will keep the Red River Valley region a safe place for North Dakotans to grow and raise their families. For years, I’ve been fighting for these protections – from successfully pushing for robust federal support, to pressing federal officials to commit permanent flood protection resources in North Dakota so often they are probably sick of me. By putting pen to paper with the U.S. Army Corps today, Fargo-Moorhead can begin the construction families and communities across the region need to stay protected and safe for years to come.”

Heitkamp has consistently worked to secure federal support for lasting flood protections in the Red River Valley by:

  • Bringing local and federal officials together to support the Fargo-Moorhead diversion project. In May 2015, Heitkamp met with city officials from Fargo and Moorheadto discuss mutual efforts to push top officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and OMB on using public-private partnerships to advance the project. Soon after, Heitkamp spoke with OMB Director Donovan to urge him to take action so the diversion project could continue to move forward. In total, Heitkamp spoke with Donovan four times in the last year – each time pressing him about the critical importance of federal support for this project. Last fall, Heitkamp and Lieutenant General Bostick met with the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority to discuss permanent, comprehensive flood protections during his first-ever visit to Fargo.
  • Passing legislation securing flood protection infrastructure projects. In June 2014, the President signed into law the bipartisan bill Heitkamp pushed for – the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) – which supports water infrastructure projects in North Dakota including permanent flood protection for more than 200,000 residents in Fargo and surrounding area through the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion project.


July 13, 2016

Political Update: March 11, 2016

Political Update: March 11, 2016

IUOE Local 49 Political Director, Julia DonnellyDakota Access Pipeline

Great news out of Iowa yesterday as the IUB unanimously approved the Dakota Access Pipeline. This 1,100 mile project runs from North Dakota, into South Dakota and over to Iowa where it will hook up with existing pipelines in Illinois. Construction is expected to start in early summer and will put hundreds of Operating Engineers to work. This is a big win and we should all be proud of the role we played.

Recently, it seems impossible to get pipeline projects approved-at least in Minnesota. Sandpiper is taking four years to get through the regulatory process. Pipeliners are leaving Minnesota to go where the work is—and taking their tax dollars with them. We need to continue to advocate for all these projects as they contribute to the success of our members, their families, and our state.

Unemployment Extension for Iron Rangers

Over 6,000 people are currently laid off on the Iron Range due to the idling of the mines. There is 20% unemployment in most communities and many local businesses are shutting their doors for good. There are nearly 1200 people who have exhausted their unemployment benefits, which is causing unbelievable hardship all across the region.

The idling of the mines is caused by illegal dumping of foreign steel into the global market. Recently, President Obama issued a 255% tariff on foreign cold-rolled steel. Although this will make a dent, it will not solve the problem. We need a 5 year ban on imported steel in order to revitalize the American market. Congressman Rick Nolan is working hard on this, but Iron Range families cannot wait for the Federal government to move forward.

Local 49 is fighting for a short term fix to help range families. We support a 26 week extension of unemployment benefits to men and women impacted by the slowdown. The UI extension has been a political football for the last few months-with politicians pinning their pet projects to the relief package. We made some good headway with week and are inching closer to a deal. We hope to get this bill passed and signed by the Governor next week. People are hurting and can’t feed their kids. Elected officials need to get serious and help the suffering families in our state.

Twin Metals

Last week, I wrote to you all that Polymet passed a big hurdle in the completion of the Environmental Impact Statement. This is still good news and we are hoping to enter the permitting stage soon.

Twin Metals is a proposed underground copper/nickel mine between Babbitt and Ely. It is in the extremely early stages and has not even done initial exploratory drilling. Unfortunately, Governor Dayton issued a letter this week saying he opposes all operations of the Twin Metals project and will oppose the renewal of their mineral leases. Adding to this, St. Paul Congresswoman Betty McCollum (whose district is 300 miles away from the Iron Range) is joining activists in pushing the Bureau of Land Management, the agency that oversees mineral leases, to not renew the leases to Twin Metals.

What is most frustrating about all of this is that there is a process in place for new mining operations to explore minerals in Minnesota. It is heavily regulated by state and federal agencies at every step along the way. What these letters said this week is “to hell with the process”.
Well-funded environmental activists are wielding political influence and winning. The decision to publically oppose this particular project was not based on scientific or academic evidence. It was based on political allegiances.

I don’t know what’s next. Hopefully, this political fight won’t spill over into the Polymet discussion-which has 10 years of environmental review and 90,000 hours of research conducted by the DNR and others. We need to continue to fight for our jobs and advocate for these projects, especially once it is determined they can be done safely and without injury to Minnesota’s environment.

In the coming months, there will be public meetings on Polymet. We need you all to show up and fight with us.

Other Interesting Stuff

MN State Capitol

MN State Capitol

March 11, 2016

A pipeline to jobs, economic and energy security:

A pipeline to jobs, economic and energy security:

The ultimate choice when considering pipelines is whether we follow the advice of groups like Greenpeace and “turn back the clock” to the days when OPEC ministers determined our energy security, or improve control by handling our domestic energy resources for the good of North America.

Learn more about why Harry Melander the President of the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council and William Blazar, the Senior VP of Public Affairs & Business Development at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, are urging decision makers to carefully weigh the costs and benefits of pipeline development in Minnesota.

Beginning in 1973, headlines announcing the results of a meeting of OPEC ministers often sent shockwaves through the American economy. From the founding of the nation until that time, the United States had never been beholden to other nations in determining our economic well-being.

It took almost 40 years, but we are finally on the verge of reclaiming control of our energy future and, consequently, protecting American energy security. In 2017, the United States will be the largest oil and natural gas producing nation in the world. By 2023, we can be 100-percent independent in North America with our trading partner and neighbor Canada.

Achieving this independence has not been easy, and more remains to be done. Minnesota, for example, has been at the end of every petroleum supply pipeline since the early 20th century as crude oil arrived here from southern sources in Texas, Oklahoma, the Gulf of Mexico and abroad. As a result, pipelines were constructed to move oil from south to north. Today the vast sources of oil and natural gas produced in North Dakota and Canada promise to put us near the front of the pipeline, if the infrastructure is retooled to allow it.

Enbridge has proposed expansions of its pipeline system that extends from both Alberta and the Bakken Field in North Dakota to refineries that produce motor fuel and other products that are sold in Minnesota. These expansions will dramatically increase capacity and take us one more step toward North American energy independence.

Enbridge’s effort is not without controversy and has detractors across Minnesota. Opponents of expansions fall into two categories. The first group is comprised of local groups supported with slanted information and financial support from international organizations like Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council. These local groups, in turn, attempt to create unsupported fears about pipeline expansions to incite opposition to the delivery of North American crude oil. The second group is comprised of landowners and our communities along the pipeline route. We believe these folks deserve the truth.

The questions raised by community leaders and citizens about pipeline safety are reasonable; and, the answers are straightforward and clear. Pipelines are the safest means of transporting crude oil with a 99.999-percent success rate, according to industry statistics. Thousands of miles of pipeline in Minnesota deliver crude oil 24/7/365. And, new pipeline proposals like the Sandpiper project that will cross northern Minnesota will include the most modern safety technologies available.

As you weigh the costs and benefits of pipeline development, please review the facts. As representatives of the skilled craft workers and businesses located in every corner of Minnesota, we have reviewed the facts and the science because our members build these projects or provide services as vendors of equipment, food, lodging, etc. Our members hear what landowners are saying, and we are confident their concerns can be addressed.

However, we are also hearing from Minnesotans everywhere that having access to North Dakota and Canadian energy resources safely delivered will increase employment and improve the economy. The ultimate choice is whether we follow the advice of groups like Greenpeace and “turn back the clock” to the days when OPEC ministers determined our energy security.

Harry Melander is President of the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council. William Blazar is Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Business Development at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

August 25, 2015 0

“Right-to-work” is wrong for workers

“Right-to-work” is wrong for workers

Right to work’s true purpose is to hurt the ability of unions to advocate for all workers and serve as a check on corporate greed – to restore the way our economy runs so the profits are shared fairly, not showered on Wall Street and mega-corporations.

Local 49 urges Operators and all other working Americans to learn more about so-called ‘right to work’ and get involved at www.wrongforeveryone.org.

August 25, 2015 0

Statement on Administrative Law Judge report on Sandpiper Pipeline Project

Statement on Administrative Law Judge report on Sandpiper Pipeline Project

Local 49 commends Administrative Law Judge Eric Lipman’s exhaustive review of the Sandpiper Pipeline Project. Judge Lipman ran a a fair and efficient public process where everyone had a chance to put their views on the record.

Hundreds of our members were proud to share their invaluable experiences as builders of our nations pipelines during the public comment period.

Quote from Jason George – Local 49 Special Projects Director on the need for Sandpiper:

“Northern Minnesota needs the thousands of family sustaining construction jobs; local governments need the tax revenue; local businesses need the economic boost; and we all need to get more oil off of our rail system and safely into pipelines – Minnesota needs to build the Sandpiper Pipeline.”

Read the official press release for more information

August 25, 2015 0