Originally published in the Star Tribune January 31, 2017
Tanya, the cement truck driver, and Adriane, the mechanical insulator, are two of more than 80,000 skilled tradesmen who help build Minnesota, literally.
A coalition of 16 local labor unions have launched “Elevate Minnesota,” a public relations campaign to tell the stories of blue-collar workers who are described in a release as “your union friends and neighbors raising the bar for us all.”
“We are trying to really show them who these folks are and remind them how hard they work for all of us and show the skills that we have, the training that we have, the privately funded health care, pensions and what we do every day in the communities across the state,” said Elevate Minnesota Board Chair Jason George, special projects director of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49. “We just feel like that that story has been lost in the last few decades.”
The “Elevate Minnesota” campaign launched last week in the form of radio spots, Facebook posts and digital videos.
The venture doesn’t have a political agenda, George said. The impetus was simply that the construction trades don’t often do a proper job explaining their contributions and the benefits that they offer to their workers, he said. The campaign highlights the union-funded training and other benefits to workers as well as the community involvement that many engage in.
“The important thing that we want people to understand is the value that we give Minnesota,” George said.
Construction workers continue to be in high demand. Last year, the construction industry added more than 7,400 jobs in Minnesota growing 6.9 percent, which was more than four times the national pace.
Elevate Minnesota is a partnership of these organizations:
Boilermakers Local 647
Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 1
Cement Masons, Plasterers and Shophands Local 633
Heat and Frost Allied Workers Local 34
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 110
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 292
International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49
Iron Workers Local 512
Laborers’ District Council
Minnesota Pipe Trades Association
North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters
Painters and Allied Trades District Council 82
Plasterers Local 265
Roofers and Waterproofers Local 96
Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 10
Teamsters Local 120