OSHA Removes Capacity Requirement

OSHA Removes Capacity Requirement

According to the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO), OSHA has removed from its rule the requirement for crane operators to be certified according to the capacity of the crane. This decision was supported by the overwhelming majority of industry stakeholders at meetings hosted by OSHA and others since the rule was first published in 2010.

In its Proposed Rule published today, OSHA has laid out plans to address the other major issue on which industry had raised concerns, that of what, if anything, an employer’s duty should be over and above operator certification. Fully one-fifth of the Federal Register notice is taken up with details of what OSHA is proposing should be the responsibility of employers in addition to having their operators certified, including their ongoing evaluation and training.

IUOE Local 49 Business Manager Glen Johnson has released a statement regarding OSHA’s additional plans to combat these issues.

Other areas OSHA addresses in its Proposed Rule include: qualifications for trainers; who must pay for certification (the employer); whether duty cycle cranes or cranes in the 5,000 – 35,000 pound capacity should be excluded (no); requirements for operators-in-training; and whether there should be (yet) another extension if the Final Rule is not published until after July.

OSHA has invited comments on its proposals. Electronic submissions should be made on docket OSHA-2007-0066 at www.regulations.gov on or before June 20.


May 22, 2018

Joe Heitkamp

Joe Heitkamp

Joe Heitkamp knew he needed a new career. He witnessed his parents struggle when they got to retirement age and they couldn’t retire. So, he sought out a career as a union heavy equipment operator and has been a member of the Local 49 for the past three years. 

“I was basically looking for a future and a solid retirement plan,” Heitkamp said, who is originally from Wyndmere, North Dakota.  The 49ers were already on his radar as he already heard of their benefits package from Local 49 business agent Nathan Brandt.

Heitkamp started his career at Northern Improvement in a gravel pit as a drag-line operator digging gravel and rock out of a lake, but he has been around heavy equipment his whole life.

“As a farm kid I had been around large pieces of equipment and had experience with operating big machinery before I even started with Northern Improvement,” Heitkamp said.

Shortly after his time with Northern Improvement, Heitkamp found a job as a leader operator on wind farms for Mortenson setting up pads for the large cranes to install the wind turbines. His first wind farm project was the Sunflower Wind Project in Hebron, North Dakota.

“It amazed me how fast those turbines would go up. I had no idea that we could put up so many of them in one day,” he said. “We put up at least four a day and we finished the project two months ahead of schedule. It was just a great experience and a great crew of guys.”

Heitkamp is currently working with Meyer Contracting as a dozer operator and recently completed a flood protection project in Oxbow, North Dakota, and is currently working in Williston, North Dakota on the new airport being built.

He says that being a part of Local 49 has shown him that no matter what project he’s worked on there’s always that sense of brotherhood.

“There’s definitely a strong brotherhood no matter what project I’m on. I love meeting new people and meeting other members of Local 49,” said Heitkamp.

Heitkamp is thankful for the Local 49 benefit plan and how it’s improved his life.

“Great wages and the great insurance for my family has been the biggest thing for me. Our insurance is second to none,” he said. “I’m just so proud to be a part of all of it.”

For more stories like Joe’s please visit www.local49.org.

May 14, 2018

2018 Metro Family Picnic Information

2018 Metro Family Picnic Information

RSVP to attend the Local 49 Annual Family Summer Picnic


Sunday, June 24, 2018 from 11:30 AM – 3:30 PM



Hope Glen Farm: 10276 E Point Douglas Rd S, Cottage Grove, MN 55016



Bring your family to the annual Local 49 summer picnic where there will be games, food, prizes, and more!




From the north: Just south of Cottage Grove, take the exit after Jamaica Ave. and turn left on Innovation Road, then take a right on East Point Douglas Road. Hope Glen Farm is 3/4 mile along on the left-hand side.

From the south: About 4 1/2 miles above Hastings bridge turn right/north onto Kimbro Avenue, then take an immediate left onto East Point Douglas Road. Hope Glen Farm is 3/4 mile along on the right-hand side.

May 11, 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

NABTU Women in the Trades Committee Looking for New Members

NABTU Women in the Trades Committee Looking for New Members

The Women in the Trades Committee, which is a standing committee of the North America Building Trades Union (NABTU), is looking for new members. This committee confers on a month by basis by conference call and members may attend annual or regional meetings as determined by the chair. If you are interested please send your resume of experience and qualifications to Local 49 Business Manager Glen Johnson at gdjohnson@local49.org

If you are selected, your resume will be sent to IUOE General President James Callahan.

Click here to read the full notice from the International Union of Operating Engineers.

January 25, 2018

Pulling Our Weight: Building the Winter Carnival Ice Palace

Pulling Our Weight: Building the Winter Carnival Ice Palace

It’s often said that there are two seasons in Minnesota—winter and construction season. Construction season is typically the time when Local 49 members are busiest, but several Local 49 members have been working hard on a different type of project this winter.

The Winter Carnival, which opens on Thursday, January 25th in Rice Park, will once again feature an ice palace. Local 49 members and fellow building trade union members have been working diligently in ten-hours shifts Sunday through Sunday to complete the famous ice palace.

Local 49 members Keith Olson and Sam Kmit, who both work for Park Construction, have been working at the ice palace since its inception.  

Olson said he has been operating the excavator and picking the ice to give to the bricklayers who are setting the ice. Kmit said he was in charge of unloading all of the ice, sorting it by which pieces needed to go in what order for the ice castle and then giving the ice to the excavator and crane operators to erect the ice palace.

Olson and Kmit said they were nervous at first, but once the project got going they said they adjusted to the challenges that came with building a structure out of ice.

“We dig holes in the ground, we don’t stack ice cubes, but it’s working out great,” Olson said laughing.

“Ice is a whole different beast. Everything you do is slowed down because everything is so slippery, and the environment is tight so it makes operating a skid steer, excavator or crane very difficult,” Kmit explained.

Kmit also explained that the cutting and shaping of the ice was no easy task either.

“It was kind of a mess with the first cutting machine we used to cut the ice so they had to bring in a cutter to make the ice a uniformed size so it was easier to stack the ice blocks,” Kmit said.

The weather was also a factor in completing the ice palace by its January 25th deadline.

“When everything got colder you would have to wait until the equipment was warmed up to get started, and then when it got really warm during the day for the ice to melt, but then would re-freeze overnight you would have a pallet frozen to the ground,” Kmit said.

Despite the setbacks and challenges, both Olson and Kmit are excited to be a part of such a landmark project for the Winter Carnival and the Super Bowl celebrations.

“I’ve made a lot of new friends on this project and have worked with certain trades that I normally wouldn’t work with so it’s been cool,” Olson said. “I’m excited to go to the lighting ceremony and see it all completed.”

“I’m happy to be a part of this. I’m glad that Park (Construction) volunteered to do this job and donated all the time, and for all the sponsors who donated so much—it really is about a whole community coming together,” Kmit said.

The Winter Carnival begins on Thursday, January 25th at 5:15 p.m. with the Moon Glow Pedestrian Parade at 6 p.m. For more information visit www.wintercarnival.com

January 23, 2018

Local 49 Members attend Women Build Nations Conference

Local 49 Members attend Women Build Nations Conference

The North America’s Building Trade Unions and Chicago Women in Trades hosted the annual Women Build Nations Conference in October 2017, which was attended by over 1,600 tradeswomen– including two IUOE Local 49 members.

The Women Build Nations Conference is for women of all ages and skill levels who either currently work or aspire to work in the construction trades. Whether they are on the pre-apprentice level or seasoned journeypersons, the conference provides a unique opportunity to learn from and connect with tradeswomen from around the country and world.

IUOE Local 49 members Debra DeBruzzi and Connie Smallman attended the conference for the first time this year. “We were all there in solidarity and everything we did was about teamwork,” DeBruzzi said. “We are all in different stages in our career in the industry, so it was neat to learn how everyone got to where they are now … it was very uplifting and supportive.”

“It was a very positive experience and it was all about moving forward,” Smallman said.

This year’s conference offered more than 35 workshops and sessions and was focused on the needs of tradeswomen and the unique challenges they face. The workshops and sessions were facilitated by tradeswomen and featured union leaders, apprenticeship coordinators, contractors and elected officials. They covered various topics such as recruitment and retention, leadership development, policy and politics.

DeBruzzi and Smallman shared their experiences attending the conference and the different workshops that were featured.

“There was a workshop that featured six different female superintendents, their career path and how they got to that level,” DeBruzzi said. “I learned that as an operating engineer, I could take the project management route and be a gate-keeper of safety, so to speak, on projects.”

“I attended a workshop that was about rising to leadership roles within your union and there were Executive Board members, employees at different training centers and business agents from all different trades,” Smallman said. “It was inspiring to hear about women in more of a leadership role within a union and they gave ideas on how to become more involved in your union.”

DeBruzzi said the conference also focused on the issues unions face today such as the Right to Work and Prevailing Wage laws along with what the different trades are doing to combat attacks on these laws and how they’re educating their members.

“It was a very open discussion,” DeBruzzi said. “They were asking the crowd to share what their locals were doing and it was very inspiring to hear that so many different trades are doing different things to educate their membership on these issues.”

Smallman also noted that while the conference was focused on women in the trades, there were many male attendees as well. They included business agents from different trades, business owners and other leaders in the union and business community.

Overall, both DeBruzzi and Smallman said the experience was inspiring and they encourage other female members of Local 49 to attend the conference.

“The support you felt from other women and when you saw what they did and what they’ve accomplished, it made you feel like if they can do it then so can I,” Smallman said.

The next Women Build Nations Conference is scheduled for October 11 – 14, 2018 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, Washington.

The goal for 2018 is to have 2,500 tradeswomen attend the conference. For more information on the Women Build Nations Conference visit http://chicagowomenintrades2.org/women-building-nations/institute-for-recruiting-and-retaining-women-in-trades/

For Local 49 members interested in attending the conference, please contact Local 49 Business Manager, Glen Johnson.



December 29, 2017

Local 49 Celebrates MN DNR Receiving Revised Permit to Mine Application for Polymet

Local 49 Celebrates MN DNR Receiving Revised Permit to Mine Application for Polymet

Local 49 Legislative & Special Projects Director issues statement regarding the Minnesota DNR receiving revised permit to mine application for Polymet. 

Yesterday was a good day for the Iron Range. The Minnesota DNR announced that they have received Polymet’s revised permit to mine application, which includes dollar amounts for financial assurance. This is a big step forward, as now the state can go ahead with public hearings and move through their process to approve the permit to mine.

This news, coupled with the news earlier this month that the federal land exchange bill, critical to the project, passed the US House of Representatives, means that we are finally getting close to a decision point on Polymet.

I want to thank Polymet for their partnership. They have done an incredible job of responsibly, ethically, and transparently moving through the permitting process, and have created a project that we believe will meet and exceed the high environmental standards we have here in Minnesota. They have also signed a project labor agreement with the union construction trades, which means that the more than 2 million work hours it will take to construct the mine will be done by local skilled tradesmen and women on the Iron Range.

We are close to the finish line. But there is more work to do. 49ers will need to show up, like we have for 10 years, to the last round of public hearings to make sure regulators understand how important this project is to us. We need to keep working to ensure that the land exchange bill is signed into law. Polymet has work to do with state agencies to ensure they come to an agreement on financial assurance and other issues that meet Minnesota standards.

More work to do, but also time to take a pause and celebrate the fact that we are getting closer to the finish line.

Jason George

Legislative and Special Projects Director

International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49


December 14, 2017

Local 49 Political Director responds to proposed changes to the Wind Production Tax Credit

Local 49 Political Director responds to proposed changes to the Wind Production Tax Credit

Congress is debating an important tax credit for Wind Industry Construction right now – it is important that these credits continue, but that leaders press the industry to ensure that like other energy industries, there are opportunities for local skilled trades to build these projects.

Local 49 Political Director Jason George has responded to these proposed changes by issuing a letter to legislatures. Read the full letter from Jason George here. 



December 13, 2017

Local 49 Business Manager Issues Statement on the Appointment of Tina Smith

Local 49 Business Manager Issues Statement on the Appointment of Tina Smith

Statement Regarding the Appointment of Tina Smith to the US Senate:

I applaud and support Governor Dayton’s choice of Tina Smith to fill the spot vacated by the future resignation of Senator Franken. We have worked with Tina for years, she is an incredibly talented leader who has proven she knows how to get things done. We look forward to working with her in the Senate to create middle class infrastructure jobs throughout Minnesota.


Glen D. Johnson

Business Manager

International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49

December 13, 2017

Local 49 Issues Statement After MNPUC Ruled the Line 3 Final Environmental Impact Statement Inadequate

Local 49 Issues Statement After MNPUC Ruled the Line 3 Final Environmental Impact Statement Inadequate

Statement regarding MN Public Utilities Commission Decision of Inadequacy for Line 3 FEIS

Yesterday in St. Paul, the MN Public Utilities Commission (MNPUC) ruled the Line 3 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) inadequate. They ordered state agencies to further study a narrow set of new items and placed a new requirement for completion of cultural surveys before construction can begin. This action went against the recommendations of their own staff, and an exhaustive report compiled by the administrative law judge (ALJ) assigned to review the data. Staff and the ALJ recommended that the factual record indicated the FEIS was adequate.

This in our view is yet another example of an unreasonable decision by the MNPUC that gives the appearance of bias regarding pipeline permitting. Sadly, this was not a surprise. When pipeline protestors asked the MNPUC to bi-furcate the Sandpiper Pipeline routing and need permits, a process specifically laid out in state law, the Commission granted their request. They did so even though they were advised their actions were illegal. Months later a court ruled the MNPUC had acted illegally, and reversed their decision.

Time and again, the MNPUC has changed their own past practice and legal process to accommodate the wishes of anti-pipeline activists. This has resulted in delay after delay of critical decision points. All of these delays in our opinion directly led to the withdrawal of the Sandpiper pipeline project; costing our members thousands of jobs, and the people of northern Minnesota much needed economic boost and tax revenue.

It appears that the MNPUC is at it again with Line 3. Enough is enough. It is time to get serious about reforming a broken MNPUC. At a minimum, who sits on the commission should be looked at. Right now, there isn’t one person on the commission that actually lives in the areas where pipelines are located. None of the commissioners are from northern Minnesota. That doesn’t seem reasonable, greater Minnesota deserves representation on this commission.

In addition, something must be done to ensure that the MNPUC follows statutory time frames for permitting decisions. They have routinely ignored statutory timelines that require pipeline permits to be decided in months, and instead are taking years. This uncertainty is costing Minnesotans jobs. The Legislature should look to make these timeframes certain, the MNPUC has clearly shown they can no longer be counted on to stick to recommended timeframes or follow past practice.

We don’t make these comments lightly. We support a strong regulatory system, one that looks carefully at all the facts to ensure that projects meet tough environmental standards. The aim is not to provide a shortcut for companies. We don’t believe in shortcuts, that’s why we invest millions of dollars together with our contracting partners in training – our members build projects the right way, carefully. But we also believe in common sense, and in getting a job done on time. The MNPUC has not demonstrated common sense of late, and has shown no ability to get their work done on time at all in regards to pipeline permitting. It is time that the Legislature intervene to get them back on track.

Jason George

Legislative and Special Projects Director

International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49

Click here to view the full statement

December 8, 2017

Nominations for the 39th IUOE Convention to Begin in January

Nominations for the 39th IUOE Convention to Begin in January


MAY 5, 2018 THROUGH MAY 10, 2018

In accordance with the International Constitution, IUOE Local 49 will be taking nominations at all regular Area Meetings in the month of January 2018, for the International Convention to be held in Hollywood, Florida, on May 5, 2018 through May 10, 2018.

A Referendum Ballot to vote on the candidates will be mailed out to the members around February 1, 2018. In addition to the 5 Officers, there will be 16 Delegates and 3 Alternates elected.

There were 5 Election Tellers elected at the NOVEMBER 2017 General Membership Meeting at the Main Hall in Minneapolis, MN to conduct the Election.

December 8, 2017

Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project is in the best interest of Minnesotans

Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project is in the best interest of Minnesotans

Local 49 Political Director Jason George & Nancy Norr, the Regional Development Director of Minnesota Power recently submitted an article published on Dec. 5 by MINNPOST about the Enbridge Line 3 Project. On Thursday the Minnesota Public Utility Commission will determine whether to find the final environmental impact statement for the project adequate. The article below explains the thorough review process this project has already completed and the economic benefits this project has for Minnesota. 


The state of Minnesota is arguably one of the most environmentally conscientious states in the country. This is in part due to our beautiful surroundings and plethora of fresh water, but is also because we are a people who see the value of the great outdoors and who have worked hard to protect it. We have put processes in place to ensure that we are able to move forward with the needs and demand from modern society while simultaneously protecting the natural surroundings that make this a great place to live.

One of these processes is a robust environmental review process for infrastructure projects, including those in the energy industry. The Minnesota Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) mission is to “protect and promote the public’s interest in safe, adequate and reliable utility services at fair, reasonable rates.” This Thursday, the state agency will be tasked with another important decision affecting our state’s energy future. The agency will determine whether to find the final environmental impact statement (EIS) for Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project adequate.


Four years of study
This important decision follows more than four years of study and over 1,500 meetings with local stakeholders to compile a thorough and comprehensive EIS. The final document evaluates the effects the pipeline replacement project will have on the environment – both physical and in relationship to the people living in communities along the route.

Minnesotans have had ample opportunity to share their perspectives on this project during a public input process. Recently, the administrative law judge tasked with make a recommendation to the PUC on the adequacy of the final EIS said the study sufficiently addressed impacts the proposed pipeline could have, along with proposed alternatives. As the PUC gathers to consider whether to adopt the administrative law judge’s recommendation, we hope they will remember their mission. Because, at the end of the day, the thoughtful and thorough environmental review process has shown the Line 3 Replacement Project is in the best interest of the people in Minnesota.

From an environmental perspective, the project is a maintenance project to replace aging infrastructure, just as our state needs to replace roads and bridges, and our cities need to replace and upgrade water and wastewater infrastructure. The current proposal is the most energy efficient option for this crucial energy source. Replacing the existing Line 3 with a new 36-inch pipe will result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions than either maintaining the existing line (currently shipping at reduced capacity of 390,000 barrels per day (bpd) and moving the balance of 370,000 bpd by rail) or replacing the existing line with like-for-like 34-inch pipe. It takes less energy to move the same liquid through a wider 36-inch pipeline than it does to move it through a 34-inch pipeline. These energy savings are enough to power about 14,700 homes in Minnesota annually.

And, make no mistake, the positive effects on the people of Minnesota will be tremendous. Minnesotans are in line to benefit from a project offering more than $2 billion in economic impact, to better meet our needs for affordable and reliable liquid fuels, and to enhance the safety of our environment for generations to come.

Economic impact
A recent University of Minnesota Duluth study estimates that Enbridge will spend $1.5 billion on the Line 3 Replacement Project, leading to a total economic impact of $2 billion in direct and spinoff spending, with much of the benefit accruing to communities and counties in Greater Minnesota along the energy corridor.

The same study found that the project will create 8,600 jobs over two years and will have a payroll of $334 million for the skilled workers employed during construction. These workers are rigorously trained to safely build and maintain this critical energy infrastructure and they take great pride in their work, including the environmental protection of their surroundings.

The long-term economic impacts of the project will include an additional $19.5 million annually in property taxes – this is above and beyond the more than $30 million Enbridge already pays each year in property taxes.

Built in the 1960s, Line 3 needs to be replaced in order to maintain the highest safety standards and reduce future maintenance needs that would disrupt local landowners and businesses. The replacement project as proposed is essential to minimize future risks to the environment while ensuring that Minnesota refineries have access to sufficient capacity. Minnesota does not operate on an energy island. Having affordable energy in Minnesota is critical to our residents and helps our businesses be more competitive.



December 6, 2017

Local 49 Mankato Office Participates in Toys for Tots for the Fifth Year

Local 49 Mankato Office Participates in Toys for Tots for the Fifth Year

For the last five years, the Local 49 Mankato office has participated in collecting new & unwrapped toys for Toys for Tots. Last year the Local 49 Mankato office raised $1,600 and collected 75 toys. This year the goal is to raise $2,000 and collect a minimum of 60 toys by December 15th.

Here’s how you can donate: 

Toy Donations

Please bring new or unwrapped toys to the Local 49 Mankato office which is located at 308 Lundin Blvd. Mankato, MN 56001 OR give a toy to your local area business agent who will ensure your donation is brought to the Mankato Office by December 18th. 

Cash Donations

All money donations can either be cash donations OR a check donation made out to Toys for Tots. This can either be mailed directly to the Local 49 Mankato Office – 308 Lundin Blvd. Mankato, MN 56001 with attention to Toys for Tots – dropped off in person to the Local 49 Mankato office, or please give your cash donation to your local area business agent who will ensure your donation is brought to the Mankato office by December 15th. 


On Dec. 7 KEYC News 12 stopped by to interview Local 49 Mankato Area Business Agent, Marvin Hose, who presented Local 49s’ member’s & contractor’s donations to local Toys for Tots Coordinator, Bernie Thompson. Thank you to the members and signatory contractors of Local 49 who have donated so far this year. A special thank you to AZCO INC. for matching our member’s donations to help us exceed our $2,000 goal!

December 5, 2017

Congress to vote on exempting Indian Tribes from the NLRA

Congress to vote on exempting Indian Tribes from the NLRA

Congress will soon vote on the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act of 2017. This legislation will exempt Indian Tribes from the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which will strip hundreds of thousands of American workers, including thousands of Operating Engineers, of their labor rights. The vast majority of these employees are not even Native American. Please contact your elected officials now!


Passage of this legislation will result in employees with collective bargaining agreements at tribal commercial enterprises, such as casinos, losing their hard-won bargaining rights. It will also have the effect of permanently dashing any hopes thousands of non-union workers at tribal enterprises had of improving their working conditions and bettering their lives by joining a union.

This legislation does not only effect the gaming industry, but all tribal commercial enterprises. Aside from casinos, Indian Tribes also operate in such sectors as mining and energy development, manufacturing and construction.

Eliminating the NRLA for tribal enterprises will strip away fundamental freedoms guaranteed to Americans today, including over 600,000 workers at tribal casinos who are not Native American. Please contact your elected officials today and make your voice heard.

October 24, 2017

Pulling Our Weight: Viking Lakes  – Minnesota Vikings Team Headquarters & Twin Cities Orthopedic Performance Center

Pulling Our Weight: Viking Lakes – Minnesota Vikings Team Headquarters & Twin Cities Orthopedic Performance Center

Members of Local 49 have once again played an instrumental role in what will soon be a Twin Cities landmark – the new Viking Lakes project, which will be home to the Minnesota Vikings’ new headquarters and the Twin Cities Orthopedic Performance Center.

The planned overall development is expected to include offices, retail, residential, hospitality and a conference center with the Vikings’ headquarters as a development flagship.

More than 100 members of Local 49 have been instrumental in every stage of the construction of the 200-acre Vikings Lakes Project.

What work have Local 49 Members done at Viking Lakes?


From the beginning, Local 49 members began the project by completely changing the landscape, which included the mass grading of the property.

Once the site was developed, Local 49 members were involved in all phases of the project from operating the forklifts, cranes and concrete pump trucks needed to pour the foundation of the buildings to hoisting materials necessary to put the roof on the building.

President of Frattalone Companies, Tony Frattalone, explained that his organization has been working on the project since the beginning – starting with the mass grading of the site.

“The first thing we did was the mass grading of the site, there were probably 800,000 yards of materials that got moved for the mass grading part of the project,” Frattalone said. “Then we moved into the demolition of the existing property that was on site.”

“Once that was finished we began on the indoor practice facility along with the earth work to get the four outside fields up to grade,” he added.

Troy Williams, a 27-year long member of Local 49, has also been on the project since its inception and has been primarily working as a forklift operator installing the walls of the facility for Northland Concrete & Masonry Company.


Troy Williams
Mass grading of site (photo credit Frattalone Companies)
Demo of former Northwest Airlines Training Facility (Photo credit Frattalone Companies)


“We’re pouring all the concrete footings for the 2,400 ft. of concrete walls on this job, and it’s neat I really like the precision there is and the pace that’s been set,” Williams said. “Being on this high profile of a job we have to meet certain standards and meet benchmarks.”

Williams explained that the forklift work is unique to this project, because of the sheer magnitude of the materials they are moving.

“Usually when you’re running forklift you’re moving things about 10 feet off of the ground, but when I came here they’re moving things 25 feet off of the ground then you got the straps of the cables and soon the forklift boom is 30 feet off of the ground—so you’re constantly trying to level yourself,” Williams said.

This project also involved the installation of several fields throughout the site. Our members graded these fields in preparation for turf and trenched in thousands of feet of drain tile to ensure that they drain properly.

Curt Peterson, Vice President of Peterson Companies, who was tasked with assisting on the completion of all of the practice fields on site, said they just put the last sod down on the last of the four natural grass fields.

“There are four natural grass fields, an outdoor field stadium with synthetic turf that should be finished up by mid-October and then we’ll finish up next spring with the indoor practice field that is synthetic turf,” Peterson said.



A unique part of the construction of the various fields, Peterson explained, was ensuring the fields were meeting the National Football League (NFL) tolerances.

“A lot of the job involved making sure standards are met at every level of the field from the sub grade work on up; so everyone has to be on their game every day meeting those standards that are set by the engineers and the Minnesota Vikings,” Peterson said.

While Peterson said that these standards are similar to the standards they have for various other projects, he said that this site was unique because Peterson Companies developed its own techniques and implemented specialized equipment to achieve those standards and tolerances.

Frattalone also said that the NFL tolerances are not much different than the other projects they typically work on.

“It’s not much different than what we typically do when it comes to tolerances—we know what we need to do and I think it was a good team from start to finish. We’re required as operators to get the job done and it’s quality work,” Frattalone said.



Rain or Shine – The Project Continues

Weather has been a significant factor throughout the duration of the project, and with tight deadlines contractors and our members worked around the clock to keep the project on task.

Lee Gass, the Superintendent for Frattalone Companies, said the weather was a challenging factor during the grading of the site.

“The weather has been the biggest challenge because of the clay soil,” Gass explained. “We have had only one day in 15 months when there was no standing water from earlier rain events…and then it rained the next day.”

Frattalone said that due to the clay soil combined with the wet weather the material had to be re-worked to make it useable on the site. Frattalone explained that the material had to be aired and dry – a process that takes many hours.

“We had to lay the material out on one to two feet lifts, and then you disk it with a tractor to loosen the soil up,” he explained. “Then you let the sun and wind take over and a few hours later you come and move it again to keep drying the material out – it takes many hours and we did it a lot on this project,” Frattalone said.

Peterson had similar sentiments stating that the clay soil on the site did not react well with all of the rain we had this summer, but since the sod for the fields were being delivered from Colorado – the sod had to be placed rain or shine.

“The natural soil on that site did not take the rainy weather well, and the schedule isn’t really something we can push back,” Peterson said. “So our crews had to fight the wet weather—working late into the evening, weekends and even in between rain storms to meet this schedule.”


Practice Field


Reflecting on the Project

While the project is still moving full speed ahead, the end is in sight as the project is expected to wrap up by March 2018.

Lester Bagley, the Vice President of Public Affairs & Stadium Development for the Minnesota Vikings, said the Minnesota Vikings organization is very proud of the progress the project has made thus far.

“We’re proud to be partners with the 49ers and the broadened union members who are working on this construction project,” Bagley said. “There is a strong track record with the 49ers and with labor unions who are playing a key role on the 200 acre development – we are grateful and excited.”

“[The project] is on track and we appreciate the union support, the construction industry, Kraus-Anderson, and other key players keeping this thing rolling,” Bagley added. “We’re fortunate the Minnesota Vikings ownership is financing the project. Everything is on track to open the new facility March 1, 2018 and we couldn’t be more excited about the future home of the Vikings and what it means to the community.”

Gass reflected on his time at the project and said that it’s been interesting watching the project evolve from raw land to a finished project, and to see the improvements in his apprentices.

“I feel like I’m just one member of a great team—it’s nice to be part of such a great group,” Gass said. “I also give a lot of credit to my seasoned (Local 49) operators for helping teach our apprentices on this project.”

Local 49 member Troy Williams said that he takes pride in working on such a high profile project and is proud of the company that he is working for.

“It’s cool working on a big job like this because it’s the Vikings and I get to say I was a part of building this, but working for Northland Concrete which is one of the biggest concrete companies in the country is also a huge accomplishment for me,” Williams said.

Peterson said that the organization is proud to be adding such a great landmark to the community.

“We look at this job as our home town and we were the ones that felt we needed to be constructing this job. Everyone that works for us are Vikings fans and consider this their home,” Peterson said.

Frattalone also shared a sense of pride being a part of this monumental project.

“It makes you feel proud, 15 years from now you can say you were a part of that project as well as part of a great team,” Frattalone said.


For more Local 49 stories visit www.local49.org.

October 23, 2017

Local 49 Political Director Wants Member Input on MN Governor Candidates

Local 49 Political Director Wants Member Input on MN Governor Candidates

Local 49 has screened potential candidates for Governor from both political parties. We put together a screening committee that included members from every outstate office in Minnesota, the Minneapolis main hall, and union leadership. We asked tough questions and had good conversations.

It is impossible to have every member of Local 49 participate in a screening process, however we felt it was important to do the best we could to listen to more members input than just the screening committee.  Therefore Jason George, the Local 49 Political Director will be attending the following Local Union meetings to specifically discuss with members the MN Governors race and listen to your input.


Mankato – Thursday, September 28, 2017 a 7:00 PM
Minneapolis – Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 7:30 PM
St. Cloud – Thursday, October 5, 2017 at 7:00 PM
Virginia – Wednesday, October 4, 2017 at 7:30 PM
Duluth – Tuesday, October 3, 2017 at 7:30 PM
Grand Rapids – Tuesday, October 10, 2017 at 7:00 PM
Bagley – Monday, October 9, 2017 at 7:00 PM
Fargo – Thursday, November 2, 2017 at 7:00 PM


He can’t make the Rochester meeting work, but President Johnson will conduct a discussion with members at this meeting on October 26th at 7:00 PM and share the sentiment of the members. Click here for more information on your local union meetings.


The election for Governor in MN in 2018 is critically important for our union and our collective future.  Jobs are at stake.  Prevailing Wage and Right to Work are issues that will be very much impacted by who wins.  We must do all we can to elect a Governor that will listen to and respect the concerns and opinions of Operating Engineers.


We want your input and to know what you think.  Please attend your local union meetings to let Local 49 know how you feel about who we endorse or if we endorse.


September 27, 2017