Blog Archives

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:
Not Voting

Grouped By Vote Position, ordered alphabetically:  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.

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

March 28, at 8:00 AM in Ways & Means, Room 200 MN State Office Building

MN State CapitolRep. Scott’s bill (HF 1476) changing the Mode to the Mean and allowing overtime only after 40 hours total in any 7-day period will be heard.

This is the bad Associated Building Contractors bill.

Business Managers and organizers are trying to get as many people as possible to attend. 49ers need to show our opposition to this yet again by turning out as many members as we possibly can on Wednesday morning.

Yes, it’s short notice – the sponsors would prefer we stay home and let them work without expressing our outrage about cutting our wages.

Background on Prevailing Wage changes is informative, but if you want to argue against it this discussion of why the changes limit the outcomes without saving money is probably the best quick read around.


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