Category Archives: benefits

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?

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

Healthier Health Care: Local 49 makes the news

Dylan Ratigan

You may have noticed the AFL-CIO featured the remarkable story of Local 49’s health care success in a recent “innovators” article, “Bending the Health Care Cost Curve chart of costs.” If so, you’re not alone – that coverage of our methods for controlling health care costs drew the attention of MS-NBC’s Dylan Ratigan, and on April 9th Ratigan invited Health Fund Coordinator Martha LaFave and recently retired Trustee Jim Hansen to tell the story on national TV.

The truth is the “changes” are pretty common-sense to anybody who has to cover the costs. Martha and Jim were glad to have the opportunity to share the story of how focusing on evidence, prevention, and understanding who pays the bill has led to remarkable reductions in the cost of keeping 30,000 people healthy.

Here’s the video from Monday afternoon’s appearance:  Read the rest of this entry

Pro-tip: Lowest Bids Don’t Lead to Great Results

A horror story from Kent, Ohio.

What would be worse than finding out your “low-bid-winning” contractor from out of state was relying on non-U.S.-citizens (in the country illegally) to maximize his profit margin on the job?

  1. Discovering the undocumented status of many of the workers on this project means they will not be paid properly and therefore the city will not capture the tax revenue their labor should generate.
  2. Worrying about the quality of the work being done, particularly since it was for student housing in this case
  3. Finding their foreman has a side-business to make a little cash by selling meth-amphetamine he’s making in his hotel room
  4. All of the above

Read the rest of this entry

Video: Minneapolis Firefighter at State Capitol: Should we have a Right to Work Out?

“Right to Work” isn’t just a union issue

Right to work out?What is a “Right-to-work-out” law?

It’s really not that complicated, although the name is misleading since everybody already has a right to work out — just as we have a right to work. What the special interests are trying to do is say union membership should be free, even though currently nobody is forced to join a union, and the economic boom of the 50s and 60s followed the biggest expansion of unions in the history of the U.S.A.

Gyms charge membership fees, but you don’t have to pay if you just work out at home, or walk in the park (which tax-payers make possible, actually.)
Read the rest of this entry

So-called “Right-to-Work” is Wrong for Minnesota

Does “free benefits” sound “too good to be true” to you?

When we get offered “free legal representation” if we cannot afford it, the GOVERNMENT pays, it’s not free.

When the people who don’t want to pay for union benefits stay at a union site, they choose to do so, they are not forced, but you can bet MN taxpayers don’t want to spend tax dollars paying for their benefits – so why should the Minnesota government force unions to pay for non-members health care or pension? Doesn’t sound fair, let alone very free-market to me.

Would those who say unions were important “back in the day,” but we don’t need them anymore also say that about the U.S. Constitution? The “Bill of Rights” assures me the right to associate with others. Evidently that offends certain extremists who prefer to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” because of some past offenses.  The United States government isn’t perfect, but it’s still the best system anywhere.  Read the rest of this entry

MN GOP renews War on Workers § ACTION ALERT

Fast move in MN Capitol: GOP picks 2 fights with middle class

We have been trying for the last 3 months to work with Senate Republicans in the hopes that we could convince them that Right To Work and changes to Prevailing Wage were the wrong direction for Minnesota. We made the case that they were bad policies that would hurt construction workers and their families. We made the case to them that there was much we agreed on and we should focus on working together on those issues to create jobs.

Unfortunately they have chosen to pick a fight.  Read the rest of this entry


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