Category Archives: Operating Engineers

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?

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

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.

Scenes from MN State Capitol

Rally for jobs at State Capitol in St. Paul, MN as legislature resumes meeting in session May 3rd.






Canada pleased by pipeline progress

 Ogallala Aquifer MapTransCanada’s proposed changes draw praise

There’s momentum building in support of the new route for the Keystone XL Pipeline, as the editorial yesterday in Canada’s “Globe and Mail” highlights.

Approval was delayed when President Obama refused to be pressed into signing off on the project when Republicans tried to force his hand, noting that to do so before final decisions were made about the route would likely open up lawsuits that would possibly further delay the construction.

Meanwhile, TransCanada has quietly pressed ahead with plans to build “to the border” (without securing the politically volatile crossing permit) at the same time as they’ve been working with Nebraska to find a viable alternative route that protects the Sand Hills region of Ogallala aquifer. Click on the map to the right if you want a better view of the area in question. 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


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