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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 Canada beginning in January. Nationwide responses to the outbreak included prohibition and cancellation of large-scale gatherings, stayat-home orders and school closures. The union operating engineers in the United States and Canada were likewise adversely affected by the impact of the pandemic. By March in the I.U.O.E. northeast region, for example, many states had taken dramatic steps to curtail the spread of the virus, and the State of Pennsylvania shut down construction entirely. Notably, work on the new, -billion Shell Oil Company Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex, an ethylene cracker plant in Potter Township, Pennsylvania, was stopped, affecting the employment of over 500 I.U.O.E. members, and on March 15, the City of Boston shut down all construction projects, idling a large number of members in that area. The union’s stationary locals in the northeast were seriously affected as well, as many universities in which they were employed closed and, therefore, required only minimal on-site staffing. Members of I.U.O.E. Local No. 132 of Charleston, West Virginia, employed by Blue Flame Pipeline work on a project in Middlebourne, West Virginia, in 2019. The virus also had a major impact on locals throughout Canada, as most had closed their offices by March 2020 and their business representatives and staff were working remotely. Meanwhile, construction sites around the country were operating at reduced capacities as the result of new government regulations and safety protocols. By April, after Washington, D.C., city officials ordered certain businesses to close, much of the I.U.O.E. international staff was also working remotely. As the pandemic persisted, by June the entire Construction Department was working at full capacity off site as the result of stay-at-home mandates put in place to curb COVID-19. However, the I.U.O.E. did respond to the crisis to help address the needs of its membership. During a special meeting on April 27 held via teleconference, for instance, the union’s Executive Board, noting that the nationwide shortage of personal protective As they each wear a face covering to help protect against the COVID-19 coronavirus during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, Outreach Coordinator John Hartwell (left) of I.U.O.E. Local No. 324 in Michigan gives instructions on operating an autonomous spyder crane to three Detroit Workforce of the Future participants during an event for the union-sponsored pre-apprenticeship program for high-school students at Detroit Metropolitan Airport on July 21, 2020. masks was “of major concern,” approved funding for purchasing masks for all locals’ staff and members. Meanwhile, the union’s Stationary Department coordinated with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to create a virus response training resource for members. The PowerPoint demonstrating the response training specific to the I.U.O.E. was presented via webinar on April 13, 2020, with over 100 I.U.O.E. leaders attending. Two additional webinars focusing on helping members to cope with stress and hardship during the pandemic were presented on April 27 and May 11. The COVID-19 pandemic continued throughout the year and into 2021, taking hundreds of thousands of lives across the globe, including several I.U.O.E. members and retirees throughout North America. Employment for the union’s operating engineers did improve, however; in its western region, for example, overall man hours for hoisting & portable locals were near normal for the fall season, although work for stationary locals was still down as a result of the disease. Subsequently, Western Regional Director Derek Donley expressed the uncertainty of the times, even as employment conditions seemed to be improving, during the General Executive Board meeting of October 8, 2020, when he concluded his report by stating, “The overall work picture is up in the air as the nation continues to battle this health crisis.” In 2021, as the I.U.O.E. approaches the 125th anniversary of its founding and, along with the entire world, continues the fight against the pandemic, the union remains a diversified trade organization that represents operating engineers working as heavy equipment operators, mechanics and surveyors in the construction industry and stationary engineers who work in operations and maintenance in building and industrial complexes. The I.U.O.E. also represents nurses and other health industry workers, public employees in a wide variety of occupations, and a number of job classifications in the petrochemical industry. With its focus squarely on the well-being of all those members, the union is committed to fostering its training, organizing and memberwelfare programs. As such, the I.U.O.E. is wellprepared to progress beyond the pandemic and all other challenges as it always has and into its next 125 years. LABOR OMNIA VINCIT WORK CONQUERS ALL

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