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125 Years Strong – An IUOE History

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Celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the founding of the International Union of Operating Engineers


INTERNATIONAL UNION OF OPERATING ENGINEERS Members of I.U.O.E. Local No. 30, which covers parts of New York and Connecticut, march in the 2019 New York City Labor Day parade. membership to about 395,000 a nearly 10-percent increase from the economic downturn the union endured a decade earlier. Its organizing campaigns and political activities still proving successful, 2019 was another extremely productive year for the I.U.O.E.’s operating engineers throughout North America, during which the union continued to grow membership and gain market share while working on major projects including the .2-billion expansion of Terminal 5 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Among many union-wide organizing victories that year, a multi-local drive on a hydrovac contractor in the northeast gave more than 200 workers their first union contract, and later that fall a campaign involving several locals in the eastern United States organized more than 340 workers into the I.U.O.E. by October. In Canada, employment of I.U.O.E. members in 2019 improved over the previous year, as well. Concurrently, the union experienced an extremely high rate of success with contract grievances settled and won by I.U.O.E. regional directors and international representatives under a myriad of international and national agreements. What’s more, several national contractors entered the wind-turbine business that year, and ongoing conversations and negotiations with those employers helped ensure that the I.U.O.E.’s equity and jurisdiction in that market were properly and securely protected. To sustain and expand that growth, the union continued to widen its training programs and set the standards for others to follow in the hoisting and portable, pipeline and stationary engineering industries. As such, the International Training & Education Center’s 2019-2020 Pipeline Training Program alone offered 175 classes during the training season, and throughout 2019, the facility conducted nearly 125,000 total training hours for members. By year’s end, a surge in membership put the union at a 10-year high of more than 400,000 members. Following a drop off in 2008 after a steady rise in membership in the 1990s and 2000s, the efforts of I.U.O.E. headquarters and field staff in the organizing and special projects departments, as well as the work of locals showcasing the union’s unparalleled training, state-of-the-art equipment and promising career paths, drove the continued increase in new members during the 2010s. Despite its many gains, among the challenges the union faced in 2019 were ongoing infringements by other crafts on the traditional work jurisdiction of the I.U.O.E., which was compounded by the N.L.R.B.’s continued support of the I.B.E.W. position that their outside-lineman branch was not bound to the Plan for the Settlement of Jurisdictional Disputes. By year’s end, while some positive progress had been made with the I.B.E.W., little could be accomplished and the outside linemen continued to expand their scope of jurisdiction into work traditionally handled by operating engineers. Regardless, as 2019 was coming to a close, General President Callahan optimistically reflected in the Fall International Operating Engineer, “This past year, like so many, had its highs and lows, but our union marches forward with unity and strength. We are ready for the challenges and opportunities that await us in the new year.” But the momentum the I.U.O.E. had built as it moved into and through early 2020 was abruptly and tragically checked when the global, lethal coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic struck the United States and Locals throughout the I.U.O.E. have a long and proud history of supporting community and charitable causes. Here, Local No. 904 in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada donates million to the Janeway Children’s Hospital Foundation in December 2019, which at the time was the largest donation ever received by the foundation. I.U.O.E. Local No. 4 in Boston, some of whose members and Business Manager William McLaughlin (fifth from left) are shown here, partners with Boston Children’s Hospital every year for a blood drive at the local’s training center. LABOR OMNIA VINCIT WORK CONQUERS ALL

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