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

Rally to Support Mining

Rally to Support Mining

In advance of the final U.S. Forest Service (USFS) public hearing on the future of mining in our region, mining supporters will celebrate our 130-year tradition with a rally to support mining before a united march to the hearing.

 

Hear from leaders in our region, enjoy FREE food and refreshments and learn how to sign up with USFS to ensure the voices of our region are heard during the hearing. Then, march to the high school in solidarity, sign up with the USFS to earn a We Support Mining t-shirt to wear during the hearing as a visual reminder to the USFS of who would be hurt most by their proposed action against mining.

 

Click here for more details

July 13, 2017

90 Years Building Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota

90 Years Building Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota

In honor of Local 49’s 90th Anniversary we celebrate the accomplishments that Local 49 has achieved and its history over the past 90 years. Most importantly we celebrate our members—past, present and future, and the work they have accomplished building Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota for the last 90 years.

“Local 49 has stood the test of time and I believe that’s because of the hard work, dedication, and passion of our membership. Over Local 49’s 90-year history, we have survived economic, political, and employment influxes and we have done so successfully during these times because in unity there is strength.”
Local49-06
Glen Johnson
Business Manager

Local 49 was chartered on June 10th, 1927 as a result of the unification of Twin Cities Locals 84 and 86, which had been chartered in late 1901 with Local 42A. On December 31, 1938, our charter was re-issued to cover approximately 300 Hoisting and Portable members in the state of Minnesota, holding meetings above Witts Grocery on Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis. Hoisting and Portable Local 723 of Fargo, North Dakota joined Local 49 on June 1st, 1946, which gave Local 49 jurisdiction over the entire state of North Dakota. Locals 560 and 560A of Rapid City, South Dakota, with territorial jurisdiction over all of South Dakota merged with Local 49 on December 1st, 1950, and our charter now includes all of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Local 49 has members that span throughout many generations, from members who have been with the union for more than 40 years to members who have just joined last year. In honor of Local 49’s 90th anniversary, we asked some of our members to share their thoughts and feelings on how the industry has changed over the years.

Darrell Martell, a 41-year member who primarily did sewer and water work, reflected on what has changed in the industry from when he first started compared to today.

“Safety has changed a lot,” Martell expressed. “They did a lot of gutsy things back then, things I wouldn’t do myself, but men would go down into these holes for certain sewer and water work and I couldn’t understand how they did that. I remember when OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) kicked in because then it got better and the companies had to abide by the new safety rules,” Martell added.

 

Al Gilbertson, a 13-year member, also noted the safety changes from when he had first started in 2004.

“One of the big things is the safety aspect, and from what I see, it went from one end of the pendulum all the way to the other; meaning that there wasn’t enough safety, and we probably did some things we shouldn’t have done, now it’s swung almost too far to the other way…We need to find a happy medium,” Gilbertson said.

Gilbertson also recalled change in technology over the past 10 years. “We still used conventional cranes when I first got into the industry and they are a little more difficult to run, and nowadays you see them phased out for the new hydraulic cranes,” Gilbertson said. “With that being said, I do believe that the newer hydraulic cranes are safer and a more operator friendly machine.”

Gilbertson also commented on the amount of computers that are in heavy equipment now.

“I never dreamt I would know this much about computers as I do now, all just to be able to run the crane. I had talked to some (Ziegler) CAT representatives a few years ago now, and some of the designers from CAT flat out told me that they’ve started designing their cabs to be more like a video game to get the younger generation to come into the industry,” Gilbertson said.

Lyle Olson, a 52-year member and retired crane operator, reflected on the changes in health care and pension benefits over the years., “I’m glad I was a steady union guy, because now I have a great union pension and health policy. People overlook the benefits side of it, and I’ve seen people who got in too late and wished they had joined the union sooner,” Olson said. “It’s been a good ride for me, and now I ended up with a really good pension and health insurance. Local 49 really took care of me, and I have no regrets."

 

Dave Doebel, a 32-year member, talked about the change in health care and how he’s glad that Local 49 and the Health Plan planned ahead for these changes. “I remember back in the day Glen [Johnson—Business  Manager of Local 49] told all of us that health insurance costs are going to become astronomical and he was right,” Doebel said. “I’m fortunate that in 32 years I’ve always had carry over hours in the winter months (to maintain his health insurance) and I felt bad for those that didn’t and had to fork out that money and still put food on the table for their kids.”

Doebel’s father was also a member of Local 49 and inspired him to be a heavy equipment operator. Doebel said he even remembers what his father told him the day he said he was going to be a heavy equipment operator. “I remember my dad saying that if I was going to pursue this kind of work, you have to work hard and do a great job for a good day’s pay, and he was right,” Doebel said.

Local 49 Business Manager, Glen Johnson, commented on the changes he has seen over his time as both the Business Manger of Local 49, and as a member.

“Looking back at when Local 49 was first incepted compared to today so much has changed in our industry from safety regulations to the kind of technology that is in the equipment now. Despite these changes Local 49 has flourished because we have adapted to the times, and through our state-of-the-art Training Center, our members can train on the latest equipment to continue to set themselves apart from the rest of the industry,” Johnson said.

“On a national level, so much has changed in regards to health insurance and retirement benefits. With health care costs rising and pensions becoming almost non-existent, Local 49 has once again prospered because of the leadership and vision at our Health and Welfare Fund and Central Pension Fund. These organizations have had the foresight to plan for these influxes to make sure our members and their families are able to have quality and affordable health care, and to be able to retire with dignity,” Johnson added.

April Lee, who has only been a member for a year, said she is proud to be a member of Local 49 and feels members should be proud of Local 49’s 90-year history. “Local 49 has been around for so long and they care about the members because they fight for everything that we get,” Lee said. “They were back when it was fighting for a 40 hour work week to even today just fighting to get legislation for the transportation bill. It’s actually very inspiring to be a part of that, and Local 49 still maintains that tradition to fight for the rights of workers and provide jobs for their members,” she added.

Looking to the future, Local 49 will continue to build Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota and will continue to do what is necessary to provide quality jobs for our members now and for years to come.

“As Local 49 stands right now we are at our highest membership numbers that we’ve had in decades – totaling more than 13,500 members -- and there are no signs of our membership slowing down,” said Local 49 Business Manager Glen Johnson. “Our members are some of the most hard-working, dedicated and talented people that I know, and with them I am certain Local 49 will last another 90 years and beyond.”

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.

June 9, 2017

Recap of MN Legislative Session from Local 49 Political and Special Projects Director Jason George

Recap of MN Legislative Session from Local 49 Political and Special Projects Director Jason George

The 2017 session of the Minnesota Legislature has concluded, well, mostly. The Governor has signed all of the state budget bills and the tax bill, but is holding out funding for the staff of the Legislature in an attempt to get them back to the negotiating table over a few controversial policy items that he doesn’t like. I want to make clear to members, none of the fighting you will hear about for the next few weeks has anything to do with the Transportation or Bonding bills, these bills are signed and official and are law. These bills will not be impacted by anything that happens from here out with the Governor and the Legislature.

The transportation bill will direct 300 million from existing transportation related taxes to transportation funding for the next two years. This money will continue to be dedicated by law going forward and will increase over time. We are going to work to put this sales tax money on the ballot to dedicate it in the Minnesota Constitution permanently for transportation funding. This is the largest increase in transportation funding since 2008 when the gas tax was raised. If we are successful at dedicating this money permanently via the Constitution this will largely solve our transportation funding gap for the long term.  In addition to the sales tax money we secured, there will also be about a billion dollars in trunk highway bonding that will happen in the next 4 years. There are other smaller pools of money that were raised for transportation infrastructure also. In addition and separate from all of this a $990 million bonding bill was passed, most of this money is earmarked for transportation and other infrastructure projects that 49ers build.

Altogether, more than $3 billion of new money will be pumped into infrastructure jobs in the next 4 years. This is much needed investment for our state, and will lead to increased job opportunities for 49ers from all sectors of our union. Public sector, highway heavy, builders, and shop members will benefit from this new money.

On the public sector side, there were not a lot of changes for our members. The pension bill that would have impacted PERA was vetoed, there will be no changes to PERA this year. There were some good and bad things in the bill that was sent to the Governor, but it was ultimately caught up in politics surrounding efforts at the city level to raise the minimum wage and paid sick time.

On other key policy items that we are always on guard for – there were no changes to the state prevailing wage laws at all. Prevailing wage changes were proposed briefly at the beginning of session, but we worked with our republican and democratic allies to make sure that those wage cutting proposals were not advanced. I’m happy to report that there are a growing number of republicans in Minnesota that do not see any value in weakening our prevailing wage laws. They know, like we know, that attempts to change prevailing wage are nothing more than attempts to lower wages for all construction workers. Right To Work was never even brought up this year at the Capitol. Again republican allies that do not support Right to Work helped make sure this did not advance. We must stay vigilant, as there are forces that are waiting for the opportunity to push this union busting policy.

One policy item we helped pass is money for the building trades helmets to hardhats program. This program helps veterans get direct access to our apprenticeship programs, with this new money Minnesota will be able to hire a coordinator to make sure veterans know about these opportunities in our trades.  This is a great thing for Minnesota veterans, and for our trades.

This was a very contentious session. However we were very successful, in large part because of the relationships that we have taken the time to build with both republicans and democrats. We have educated both sides of the aisle on our issues, and those efforts paid off this year as we were able to work very well in a divided government situation. We will continue to reach out to republicans on our policy issues, we will also continue to educate democrats on the value of infrastructure jobs. We will continue to have the political philosophy that we will support those that support us, from either party.

I want to especially give thanks to Speaker Kurt Daudt, Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and Governor Mark Dayton.  All three of them made transportation infrastructure a priority this session, and worked hard to find a compromise that nobody loved, but that moved Minnesota forward and created jobs for 49ers. Lastly I want to thank Local 49 members. I have never seen the members of Local 49 more engaged politically. Thousands of you sent emails, made phone calls, and attended events to push for transportation infrastructure funding. You truly made all the difference. I hope you all stay engaged, the work is never done.

 

June 1, 2017

Take Action to Pass MN Transportation Project Funding!

Take Action to Pass MN Transportation Project Funding!

There are 5 weeks left of the Minnesota Legislative session and funding for transportation infrastructure is being negotiated right now by lawmakers. We need you to send a message to your legislators right now.

The message is simple:

They must pass a long term transportation funding bill that the Governor will sign into law. The bill needs to include significant money from existing taxes already paid, some form of new revenue, and adequate funding for metro transit.

We can’t wait any longer – thousands of construction jobs, and needed infrastructure improvements are at stake!

We have made it easy for you, click here to send an email to your legislator. It will take you 2 minutes, and it will make a difference. You can also forward this e-mail to your friends and family, and you can share this on your Facebook and Twitter pages.

To do this you need to complete it yourself first, and then it will prompt you with directions on how to share it. We really encourage you to share this with your friends, family and on your Facebook and Twitter pages.

— Jason George

Legislative and Special Projects Director

April 21, 2017

IUOE Hail Permit Approval for Keystone XL Pipeline

IUOE Hail Permit Approval for Keystone XL Pipeline

WASHINGTON, DC The following statement was issued today by James T. Callahan, General President of the International Union of Operating Engineers, on the State Department’s permit approval for the Keystone XL Pipeline:

“Finally, the most studied and scrutinized pipeline in history is one step closer to being built. The Operating Engineers applaud issuance of the presidential permit and commend the State Department for finding that critical energy infrastructure projects like Keystone XL are in the national interest.

President Trump has made it clear that modernizing North America’s energy infrastructure is vital work. We agree. Building Keystone XL means creating thousands of skilled construction jobs—jobs that feed families, pay mortgages, send kids to college—that will also benefit the businesses and communities along the route.”

Click here to read the full statement.

March 24, 2017

Impact of Prevailing Wage on Military Veterans in Minnesota

Impact of Prevailing Wage on Military Veterans in Minnesota

Minnesota’s Prevailing Wage laws ensure that construction workers get a good days pay for a good days work. Veterans are coming home and getting into construction in big numbers in Minnesota because our area standard wages allow them to raise families. There are some legislators in Minnesota that want to weaken or eliminate prevailing wage laws, which would directly cut the pay of workers and veterans looking to have a middle class career. Find out more about this important issue by looking at the numbers. 

Prevailing wage standards make construction employment more attractive for veterans and

improve economic outcomes for veterans. Minnesota’s prevailing wage law:

• Increases the annual incomes of veteran blue-color construction workers by 7.0 to 10.7 percent;

• Improves employer-provided health coverage for veterans in construction by 11.2 to 14.6 percent;

• Reduces veteran poverty by 23.7 to 31.4 percent for those working in construction; and

• Supports veteran-owned construction firms.

Click here to read the full independent study.

February 23, 2017