Union Proud

The founders of the International Union of Operating Engineers realized that In Unity There Is Strength. Unionized workers pledge to work together: maintaining and improving their wages, benefits, and working conditions through collective bargaining. Business owners have always banded together, through organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and various lobbying groups – the way to balance their collective power is for employees to use that same strategy.

Only through unity can a trade union successfully fulfill its purpose and provide all workers the dignity, security and respect they deserve. Our mission, as stated in IUOE Local 49’s Constitution is, “to organize all persons working in the jurisdiction of this International Union without regard to race, creed, color, sex, religion, age, or national origin.”

Local 49 of the International Union of Operating Engineers represents more than 13,000 men and women in Minnesota, North and South Dakota with contracts for highway/heavy and building contractors, well drillers, equipment repair shops, welding shops, sand and gravel suppliers, counties, municipalities, hospitals, school districts, cemeteries, and more.

49 LOGO dial stripped 100x100 white on clearLABOR UNIONS BUILT THE U.S. MIDDLE CLASS.

Trade Unions, such as Operating Engineers Local 49, exist because workers want a fair share of the wealth their labor produces. We are not organized to be a social club or to build the prestige of individuals: Our sole purpose is to advance the welfare of workers and working families. We believe union apprenticeships are one of the keys to building a workforce that begins contributing productively from day one, while earning fair compensation including benefits and a pension that starts building while many college students are building debt that will hang over them for years. Why pay for college when you can earn while you learn as an apprentice Operator, taking advantage of our year-round Training Center at no cost to our members?

Keystone Senate Vote March 22nd, 2013

Friday night there was an important vote in the US Senate on the Keystone Pipeline. The pro-Keystone amendment would not have changed the process at all, it was simply an opportunity for Senators to get on the record either supporting or opposing the Keystone Pipeline. Local 49 spoke to representatives from both MN Senator Klobuchar and Franken’s offices and asked them to support this pro-Keystone amendment. While both MN Senators are with us on most issues, they were not with us on this one. It is important that members know when our friends stand with us, and when they don’t. And in this case, Senator Franken and Senator Klobuchar voted against our jobs.

Local 49 will continue to provide you with unbiased, member driven information on the critical issues related to job creation. We will not spin for politicians; we will always tell you the truth. And the truth is: on this vote covering the Keystone XL pipeline some of our friends didn’t stand with us.

On a positive note: The entire Senate delegation from the Dakotas voted YES in support of Keystone. We thank Senator Heitkamp (D-ND), Senator Hoeven (R-ND), Senator Johnson (D-SD), and Senator Thune (R-SD) for their support of good paying union pipeline jobs.

The intent of the amendment was to establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to promote investment and job growth in United States manufacturing, oil and gas production, and refining sectors through the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Vote Counts:
YEAs
62
NAYs
37
Not Voting
1

Grouped By Vote Position, ordered alphabetically:  Read the rest of this entry

At Last: Machines of Glory

Watch Machines of Glory on the Discovery ChannelFinally unveils “Machines of Glory”

skid steer on the edge

Operators on the edge!

TV Guide thought we’d be seeing 3 crews of Heavy Equipment Operators compete for cash in excavators, backhoes and skid steers in  “Machines of Glory” on Discovery in March (of last year.) The idea was challenges in speed, skill, and so on. After 3 rounds one team goes home while the 2 remaining crews go head-to-head in a final challenge that involves all three machines…

Well, here’s the thing.  It didn’t happen that fast.
Read the rest of this entry

Right to Work? Yeah, right.

Pull the other one – it’s got bells on!

Nobody is ever forced to pay union dues, even if they work at a mostly-union job. But the spin from big-money corporations makes it sounds like union organizers are thugs, not the heroes that built our middle-class.

AFL-CIONobody’s union dues ever go to political campaigns, either – all that spending is strictly regulated by federal law already: any union spending on political causes or campaigns comes from strictly voluntary contributions, totally separate from union members dues. The national Chamber of Commerce has decided that only businesses should be able to bargain collectively – not regular workers – so they lobbied politicians to take that right away from us.

So why the big push by lobbyists and big corporations? Because they want to keep more money for the CEOs, plain and simple.  Bigger bonuses, bigger paychecks, and more spending on their lobbying, which can only mean less for the actual, productive workers who provide the goods and services these fat cats are relying on for their perks, benefits, bonuses, huge pensions, and salaries. You can bet they’re motivated by money, not concern for your paycheck or pension.

How fair is that?

Sure, the name sounds great – but since we all already have a “right” to work, when you think about it you’ll realize that name was carefully chosen to obscure the real agenda by keeping us from thinking hard about what’s actually in the bill.

Workers in and out of unions must fight back against the negative stories the national news media is parroting from talking points only vaguely connected to reality. The AFL-CIO is spear-heading an overdue pushback about how critical the middle-class wages and benefits are to our future and our economy by establishing a Message Movers team–folks who are willing to talk back when they hear biased stories about unions and big business by politicians or through social media and email. Read the rest of this entry

49er Mike Gray: A jack-of-all-trades

49er Mike Gray at Resurrection Cemetery

Brother Mike Gray of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 does a lot of everything at Resurrection Cemetery. Or as he puts it, “I’m a jack-of-all-trades here.”

A member of the staff of The Catholic Cemeteries since 2005, Gray oversees the seasonal field staff in the maintenance of cemetery grounds and assorted field duties. He’s a skilled mechanic who keeps the cemetery equipment serviced and operational. And of course, he handles the opening and closing of graves.

While his day-to-day work is largely physical, Gray sees it as much more.

“When I started this job I began meeting the people we serve and it became clear that this is a ministry,” Gray said.  “We are here with people at times of great sorrow and sadness, and I realized the importance of our presence.”

The preparation of a grave for burial — locating the site, digging the space, putting up the tent, and related tasks — is sacred work, Gray says.

“I think of each burial as if it were for my mother or father, because I know the person to be buried is loved by many. This is a very fulfilling job.”

Whether standing by at the burial services or doing dauily fieldwork, Gray has come to know many families at Resurrection.

Gray’s spare time is filled with family, faith, and powerlifting – he can bench-press more than 400 pounds!

Several years ago, after his pastor was diagnosed with cancer, Gray helped start a competitive powerlifting benefit, called Relentless, which drew weightlifters from all across the country.  The event was such a success that it is now held annually and supports HopeKids, which offers support to children with life-threatening medical conditions.

“Mike gives a lot of himself to his job and his community. He is a real asset to our team at Resurrection,” said John Cherek, Director of The Catholic Cemeteries.

MN Congressman Ellison introduces Financial Transaction Tax bill to U.S. House

MN Rep Keith Ellison introduces Robin Hood TaxMinnesota Rep. Keith Ellison introduced a bill in Congress this week that would restore a tiny tax on Wall Street trades – a “Financial Transaction Tax” or FTT also called the Robin Hood tax in some circles, including by the Nurse’s union that has been pushing on behalf of the middle class.

Read the rest of this entry

Operating Engineers Local 49 Endorses Republican incumbent Congressman Cravaack in Minnesota’s 8th District

IUOE Local 49 logoInternational Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 49 Announces Endorsement in MN 8th Congressional District

Earlier this week members of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 gathered in Duluth to screen candidates for Congress in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District.  This screening was open to all Local 49 members that lived in the 8th District, and was widely advertised on our website and distributed via email.  Members came from across the 8th District to participate.

After hearing from all 3 candidates running in the Democratic Primary, and Congressman Cravaack, we had what turned out to be a very difficult conversation about who we should stand with in this election.  The conversation centered around jobs, our union, and the ability of our members to earn a good living.  These are the core issues that bind us together as a group, and we decided that this should drive our endorsement.

The members held a secret ballot vote the night of screening Read the rest of this entry

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.