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

Local 49 2017 Political Endorsements.

Local 49 2017 Political Endorsements.

Below is a message from Local 49 Political Director, Jason George, regarding Local 49’s political endorsements and the full list of Local 49 endorsed candidates. Click on the candidate’s name to link to more information about them.



Local 49 has endorsed candidates for local elections this year. As I hope you know, we stick to a philosophy that guides our recommendations for endorsement – we will work with anyone, from any political party that supports your jobs and your union. We endorse both democrats and republicans that support you. This isn’t always easy, both political parties would prefer we always endorsed them, but we respect the fact that our members are pretty split between conservatives, independents, and democrats and candidates from any party should earn our support.

This year there are only local elections, school board, mayor, school levies etc…so you will see that is where we focused. However you vote is your decision, these are simply our recommendations. Whatever you do in the ballot box, please make sure you get out and vote. It’s important, it is our right, and the decisions made by elected officials impact your jobs and your union. As always if there are any questions about this give me a call. Members over the years have disagreed with our endorsements sometimes, but I hope you always know I’m willing to talk through those issues with you always.

— Jason George, Local 49 Political Director


Mayor – Jacob Frey  

Ward 1 – Kevin Reich

Ward 3 – Steve Fletcher 

Ward 4 – Barbara Johnson

Ward 5 – Blong Yang

Ward 6 – Abdi Warsame

Ward 7 – Lisa Goodman  

Ward 9 – Mohamed Farah

Ward 11 – John Quincy

Ward 13 – Linea Palmisano

Park Board At Large – Londel French

Park Board District 3 – AK Hassan

Park Board District 6 – Brad Bourn


St. Paul

Mayor – Pat Harris



VOTE YES on sales tax increase dedicated to fixing local roads



City Council – Nathan Coulter


Rosemount-Eagan-Apple Valley School District

School Board – Craig Angrimson (IUOE Local 49 Member)


White Bear Lake School District

School Board – Don Mullin (Painters Union Member)


Anoka-Hennepin School District

VOTE YES on bonding for buildings and operating levy


Forest Lake School District

VOTE YES on bonding for buildings and operating levy


Mounds View School District

VOTE YES on bonding levy for school buildings


Richfield School District

VOTE YES on bonding for buildings and operating levy


Roseville School District

VOTE YES on bonding levy for school buildings

November 1, 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 Responds to Attack on Hard Working Minnesotans in the New York Times

Local 49 Political Director Responds to Attack on Hard Working Minnesotans in the New York Times


Jason George, Political and Special Projects Director for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49, issued the following statement to the media in response to comments in today’s New York Times attacking the hard-working men and women of northeast Minnesota:


“The article in today’s New York Times about the future of mining and the city of Ely, Minn. requires a comment. Specifically, the quotes attributed to Becky Rom and her husband Reid Carron are something that I cannot ignore.

“Danny Forsman drives to the mine in his truck, comes home and watches TV, and he doesn’t know this world exists,” says Becky Rom.

“Resentment is the primary driver of the pro-mining crowd here — they are resentful that other people have come here and been successful while they were sitting around waiting for a big mining company,” Carron told me. “They want somebody to just give them a job so they can all drink beer with their buddies and go four-wheeling and snowmobiling with their buddies, not have to think about anything except punching a clock.”

In my opinion, and in my experience sitting through public hearing after public hearing listening to environmental activists dismiss and belittle construction jobs, the sentiments expressed by Rom and Carron very accurately reflect the way most anti-mining, anti-pipeline, and anti-development groups really feel about the hardworking people of northern Minnesota.

It disgusts me. There is no other way to put it.

Minnesota’s blue-collar workers, the men and women I am proud to fight for, deserve better. Every day they get up at the crack of dawn, go out into the elements and put their training to use working incredibly hard to create a better state for all of us. They make sure we all have the minerals and iron needed to make the products we all use. They are out there making sure we have safe roads to drive on, safe buildings to educate our kids in, and energy to power our society. Every day they are taking great care to do all of this while protecting the environment that we all live in and enjoy.

Only to be thought of by the very people who happily benefit from their hard work as “just sitting around waiting for somebody to give them a job so they can drink beer and not think about anything other than punching a timeclock”.

There is a war on American workers in this country, and that war is bi-partisan. Far right-wing low wage conservatives want to destroy unions so they can pay workers less for hard labor. And far left-wing wealthy environmental elitists like Rom and Carron are only concerned with themselves, perfectly content to have the people who carry their gear to the boundary waters struggle to feed and house a family making 10 bucks an hour.

Enough is enough. The disdain for Minnesota workers, and the belittlement of highly skilled work exhibited by environmental activists and low wage conservatives alike must be rejected by the majority of us. We must stand up, and stand strong for the workers that make our lives better every day.”




October 12, 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

Attend Enbridge Line 3 Hearings

Attend Enbridge Line 3 Hearings

The future of the Enbridge Line 3 Project is in our hands. If we do not show up and fight we could lose another major job opportunity that would create thousands of jobs for our brothers and sisters and for Northern Minnesota.

Support the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project by attending an Enbridge Line 3 Hearing near you!

Sept. 26, 2017 from 1-4 p.m. or 6-9 p.m.
Ralph Engelstad Arena
525 Brooks Avenue, North Thief River Falls, MN 56701

Sept. 28, 2017 from 1-4 p.m. or 6-9 p.m.
St. Paul Intercontinental Hotel
11 East Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul, MN 55101

Oct. 10, 2017 from 1-4 p.m. or 6-9 p.m.
IRA Civic Center
1401 NW 3rd Avenue, Grand Rapids, MN 55744

Oct. 11, 2017 from 1-4 p.m. or 6-9 p.m.
East Lake Community Center
36666 State Highway 65, McGregor, MN 56718

Oct. 12, 2017 from 1-4 p.m. or 6-9 p.m.
Grand Casino Hinckley
777 Lady Luck Drive, Hinckley, MN 55037

Oct. 17, 2017 from 1-4 p.m. or 6-9 p.m.
Sanford Center
1111 Event Center Drive NE, Bemidji, MN 56601

Oct. 18, 2017 from 1-4 p.m. or 6-9 p.m.
Duluth Entertainment Convention Center
350 Harbor Drive, Duluth, MN 55802

Oct. 25, 2017 from 1-4 p.m. or 6-9 p.m.
Cross Lake Community Center
14126 Daggett Pine Road, Cross Lake, MN 56442

Oct. 26, 2017 from 1-4 p.m. or 6-9 p.m.
River’s Edge Convention Center
10 Fourth Avenue South, St. Cloud, MN 56301

September 25, 2017

Local 49 responds to MN Dept. of Commerce comments on Line 3 Replacement

Local 49 responds to MN Dept. of Commerce comments on Line 3 Replacement

Yesterday the MN Department of Commerce (MNDOC) posted comments to the record at the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) questioning the need for the Line 3 replacement project. MNDOC said that in their opinion the best solution was for Enbridge to shut down the existing Line 3 and not to replace it at all.

We strongly disagree. Flint Hills and other refineries testified on the record that they need the oil to supply our region, and in fact agreements are already in place for purchase of the product. That clearly demonstrates the need. To suggest that we can simply stop using the oil, and that we should just shut down Line 3 is a ridiculous conclusion that defies basic common sense.

Most public officials, including Governor Dayton and former President Obama, have said that while we transition to a clean energy economy, oil will continue to be necessary to bridge the gap. Governor Dayton has said publicly he supports replacement of Line 3 for public safety reasons; how the agency that he directs could contradict his clearly stated objective is beyond understanding.

Replacing Line 3 is only controversial to radical environmental extremists. Moving oil in the safest possible way should be the priority of the MNDOC, not bowing to protestors demands.

“Line 3 is 60 years old, a company wants to spend more than a billion dollars of private money to construct a brand new state of the art replacement, and the MN DOC says no thanks we don’t need it. I don’t even know what to say, it makes absolutely no sense to me, or the hundreds of operating engineers that are hoping to further their careers and feed their families building this needed project for our state”, said Jason George, Local 49 Political Director.

The regulatory process is not over. These are just comments from MN DOC. The Governor has said he is reserving judgment until the record is complete. Now more than ever it is critical that 49ers attend the upcoming public hearings to let the administrative law judge who will make the final recommendations to the PUC know that this project is needed, that the good paying jobs it will create in northern Minnesota are needed, and it is just plain common sense to replace an aging pipeline with a new one.

You can find hearing locations here, Local 49 Political Director, Jason George, will be issuing an email later this week as well, we hope to see you at a hearing. We will continue to do all we can to join with local communities, local business leaders, local landowners, and all reasonable people to support this important project.


September 12, 2017

Local 49 Donates to Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief

Local 49 Donates to Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief

International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 has donated $5,000 to Hurricane Harvey disaster relief through the Operating Engineers National Charity Fund. In addition, during the month of September at all Local 49 union meetings we will be collecting donations for IUOE members in Local 178 in Fort Worth and Local 450 in the Dayton Texas area.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected by Hurricane Harvey, including our fellow Operating Engineers and their families,” said Glen Johnson, Business Manager of IUOE Local 49. “As Operating Engineers we have a remarkable history of standing together and supporting each other at all times, but especially in times of need. It is Local 49’s sincere hope that this contribution will help rebuilding efforts and those most in need.”

September 6, 2017

Local 49 Condemns Vandalism on Enbridge Line 3 Project

Local 49 Condemns Vandalism on Enbridge Line 3 Project

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 released a statement to the media speaking out against the protester vandalism that occurred on the Enbridge Line 3 Project today in Douglas County, Wisconsin.

Below is an excerpt from the release:

“The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 is disturbed to learn that protesters trespassed on a pipeline construction right-of-way today and jumped onto a working piece of equipment in an act of vandalism. This is unsafe and unacceptable for everyone involved, especially the workers and contractors on site doing the work. While we respect the right of people to protest, that does not extend to trespassing on private land, damaging equipment, and exhibiting violent behavior toward a project that is legally permitted and is intended to improve safety.”

Click here to read the full statement issued to the media. 


August 25, 2017

Employment Opportunity with the IUOE

Employment Opportunity with the IUOE

As the International Union of Operating Engineers near completion of the International Training & Conference Center in Texas, the IUOE is beginning to interview and hire critical personnel.

They are looking for applicants for the position of a Master Mechanic/Equipment Superintendent. Candidates shall have experience with repair, maintenance and set-up of Hoisting & Portable equipment in the IUOE’s jurisdiction, including but not limited to:

A) Crawler, Hydraulic and Tower Cranes

B) All “dirt” equipment

C) Pipeline equipment

Please send resumes to: Joe Giacin, Chief of staff at jgiacin@iuoe.org

August 21, 2017

Pulling Our Weight: Restoring the Minnesota State Capitol

Pulling Our Weight: Restoring the Minnesota State Capitol

After four years of work, the Minnesota State Capitol restoration is finally complete. The State Capitol hasn’t undergone a restoration process since 1905, and Local 49 members were proud to be a part of this historic effort.

While there were only 20 operators on site performing several different scopes of work, Local 49 was involved in all four years of the restoration process and members were involved in many of the key exterior and interior work that was needed.


What part of the Capitol did our members work on?

Local 49 members were a visible part of the restoration project as our members operated the cranes that serviced many other trades by delivering construction materials to them. Members operated forklifts to unload and deliver materials to cranes and to different areas of the job.

There were also several members doing exterior site-work on the project removing and loading out the old driveways, sidewalks, and excavating and grading for the new installation.

Local 49 signatory contractor, Bolander, had a unique part in the removal of concrete and earth in the basement of the Capitol so a new HVAC Duct system could be installed. Due to the fact that the Capitol was not closed during this time, all removal had to be done either by hand or with electric machinery. Bolander excavated 7,000 yards of dirt from the Capitol this way.

“Electric excavators and hand carts were our big means of moving dirt; the excavators had cords so those needed to be tended by people and all of the dirt was then buggyed to an opening of the foundation where a skid steer could then remove the dirt from the Capitol,” said John Caroon, Senior Project Manager for Bolander.

Caroon said it was crucial that the removal process didn’t cause any dust or major disruption. “It was a big challenge to do work with electric equipment and maintain a clean and dust-free environment for our workers and the public—that was the big catch,” Caroon said.

Local 49 members were also responsible for the removal and reinstallation of the famous Quadrigas.

Kris Houg, a 14-year crane operator, was key in the removal and installation of the 12,500-pound Quadriga.

“It [the Quadriga] had to go up and over the roof of the capitol and reach over the whole building to set it back in place,” Houg said. “Removing it was much easier than re-installing it.”

Levi Cain, a Local 49 crane apprentice, worked with Houg as his signaler to safely remove the Quadriga and re-install it.

“The Quadriga had to go across the entire building which meant that Kris couldn’t see where he was landing the load—I was his eyes,” Cain said.

Cain explained that through radio communication he led Houg safely to where the Quadriga was supposed to be placed..”

“It’s a big responsibility because you are the crane operator’s eyes and you have to gain the trust of the crane operator,” he added. “If you don’t have the operator’s trust then he won’t let you signal for him.”

Cain and Houg were also a part of the team who removed and reinstalled all of the steps around the Capitol. Houg explained that the 3,000 stones were lifted four to five times to be cleaned, prepped, cut, and moved around to create the final product.

“It was really neat to see what craftsmanship when into how the steps were re-done compared to what was there from past restorations,” Houg said. “The amount of work they did to perfect it for those steps to last another 100 years was perfect.”


Looking Back at a Historic Project

With more than 350 workers from all different crafts working on the project, safety and efficiency was key. John Caroon, Senior Project Manager for Bolander said the entire project went “seamlessly.”

“I have never been a part of a project where everyone on the project team from JE Dunn (Local 49 signatory employer) to the mechanical, electrical and other trades worked so seamlessly together,” he said. “After a while working together it was going so well the project meetings would only take 45 minutes because everything was lined up. It went way better than expected given the complexity of the project.”

Caroon also noted the historic achievement in being a part of this restoration process. “We [Bolander] are a long-standing local company who’s been in business for nearly 100 years, and we were honored to be a part of the project,” he added.

Both Cain and Houg also recognized what an important project this has been for them personally and for the state.



“As you see things come apart and go back together, you see what an important landmark that building is,” Houg said. “We’re quite lucky to have that nice of a Capitol in our state—it’s something to be proud of.”

“Not a whole lot of apprentices can say they were a part of Minnesota State Capitol remodel,” Cain said. “And basically being the only crane operator apprentice there was an honor—I loved working there, and I was happy to be a part of the crew.”


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

August 11, 2017

Pulling Our Weight: Building the St. Croix Crossing Bridge

Pulling Our Weight: Building the St. Croix Crossing Bridge

Minnesota and Wisconsin are now linked by a shiny new bridge over the St. Croix river—a bridge that involved Local 49 members in all phases of its construction. Today marks the grand opening of the St. Croix Crossing Bridge, which replaced the 80-year old Stillwater Lift Bridge. Four years after breaking ground on the project, the work is finally complete.

The St. Croix Crossing Bridge was a massive project for Local 49 members and our signatory contractors. This joint venture project through Lunda Construction and Ames Construction employed more than 100 operators throughout the entire duration of the bridge construction.


What part of the bridge did Local 49 members work on?

Hoisting of materials was our members’ main task in constructing the bridge span. Members also assisted other trades by placing concrete forms into place. Operating Engineers operated the custom built segment placing cranes that hoisted the pre-cast bridge segments into place.

“The segments were up to 180 tons a piece, and we had designed and fabricated a special erecting crane for this job,” said Dale Even, the Senior Project Manger for Lunda Construction. “That piece of equipment was designed specifically for this structure. So that was a truly one-off piece of equipment that could only fit this bridge project.”


“We had to hang the segments in a double shift environment, that was somewhat new, having two different pre-casting systems deployed to get the bridge accomplished in that time frame,” said Justin Gabrielson, the Operations Manager for Ames Construction. 

The bridge is comprised of 996 segments, 710 of which were installed in 2016. 

Several crane operators were also placed on barges in the river that worked to lift the segments for the bridge. More than 20 cranes were in use at peak construction.

“It was just a sea of [crane] booms. We had radios and for a while every crane and barge had their own [radio] channel so everyone knew where everyone would be, and we were always coordinating,” said Mark Conrad a 16-year crane operator who worked on the St. Croix Crossing Bridge all four years.

Conrad was one of the Local 49 operators who got the opportunity to operate one of the two rare 660-ton ringer cranes, which erected the segments for the bridge, out on a barge. 

“I don’t know if I’ll ever run into that kind of opportunity again,” Conrad said. “To be able to run a ringer crane of that size – which took a month to put together and a month to take it apart -- and just knowing all that it can do was amazing.”

Operating Engineers also served as tugboat pilots and deckhands to deliver construction materials by barge to different piers and locations on the river and to position cranes on the river. The tugboats also delivered the pre-cast segments on barges from Grey Cloud Island near Cottage Grove to the bridge.

“Barging the pre-cast segments from Grey Cloud Island was a 30 mile trip one way, and we had 650 segments transported to the job site that way,” Even said. 

Local 49 members also excavated and drove piling for the foundations and piers on land as well as drilled caissons and excavated for the piers in the water. Operating Engineers operated the concrete pump trucks that placed the concrete for almost all bridge construction including piers.

Our members built the roads leading up the bridge, and removed the old roads to realign and rebuild them. This included all aspects of road building from subgrade preparation to asphalt paving. 

According to Even, the Lunda and Ames crews self-performed 67% of the work on the bridge.


One of a Kind Project

The $646 million bridge design is so unique that it’s only the second of its kind in the United States. A bridge this distinctive posed unique challenges along the way that took some major ingenuity, and having an experienced workforce was key to accomplishing this project.

According to Even, the first challenge was the bridge design itself. The bridge design is known as an extradosed bridge. “It’s a hybrid between a box girder bridge and a stay cable bridge,” Even said.

Another unique part of the process was working through the harsh Minnesota winter.

“We had to aerate the river to keep the water open, because if ice had accumulated we wouldn’t have been able to get the construction personnel out to the places they needed to work,” Gabrielson said. “We had people servicing those machines [to aerate the river] all day.”

Even explained the steep bluff on the Wisconsin side of the bridge was challenging due to the limited access workers had to build that piece of the bridge.

“We built a falsework system of a bridge – which is a temporary structure – that we kept a 270-ton tower crane on. That gave us our access to build pier 13 and provided the support to set the segments,” Even said.

Reflecting on Bridge Completion

Today’s unveiling of the St. Croix Crossing Bridge wraps up four years of hard work and dedication from all who were involved.

“The pride in knowing we built something that’s beyond the scope of anything Minnesota has ever done, and to know it will be there long after I’m gone is amazing,” Local 49 member Mark Conrad reflected. “It’s built to stand the test of time, and I’m really thankful that I had the chance to be a part of this.” 

“We’re very fortunate to have been able to partner with Lunda, MnDOT and WisDOT. The safety of all the crafts people for this size project was a priority, which is good,” Gabrielson said. “We have many skilled crafts people and I’m very proud of that.”

Local 49 also recognizes all of our members and signatory contractors who worked on the St. Croix Crossing Bridge.

“It was a great experience being part of this project. I couldn't be more proud of the work that my fellow 49ers did in building this bridge. In the 4 years it took to build it, we had 49ers just starting their careers and had a few retire on the project too,” said Local 49 Business Agent Tim Olson.

“This is one of those jobs that everyone will look back on with great pride and tell people that they helped build it,” Olson added.


Get email updates from Local 49

Local 49 will be unveiling several 90th Anniversary stories, videos and much more. Stay tuned to local49.org and facebook.com/local49 for more information.

August 2, 2017

Local 49 Announces Endorsements for Minneapolis & St. Paul Mayoral Candidates

Local 49 Announces Endorsements for Minneapolis & St. Paul Mayoral Candidates

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49, the state’s largest construction union representing close to 14,000 heavy equipment operators, announced today that it has endorsed Jacob Frey for Minneapolis Mayor and Pat Harris for St. Paul Mayor.



Click here to view the Jacob Frey endorsement release                                Click here to view the Pat Harris endorsement release



August 1, 2017

An Open Letter to the U.S. Forest Service & Bureau of Land Management on MN Mining

An Open Letter to the U.S. Forest Service & Bureau of Land Management on MN Mining

Read the open letter that was published in the Star Tribune today, July 18, 2017 by Jobs for Minnesotans calling out the U.S. Forest Service & the Bureau of Land Management on Minnesota Mining. The letter states that both organizations have attempted to block any new mining projects in the Arrowhead region and the good jobs that go with them. Local 49 along with 16 other organizations that include other building trade unions, labor organizations and local city/county organizations signed in solidarity.

You can show your support for mining by attending the public hearing on Tuesday, July 25 at 4:30 PM at the Virginia High School Auditorium in Virginia, MN.

Click here to view the full letter.

July 18, 2017