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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INTERNATIONAL UNION OF OPERATING ENGINEERS Following the 1956 collapse of two-thirds of the outdated Schoellkopf Power Plant into the Niagara River, the loss of the generating station prompted the U.S. Congress the next year to pass the Niagara Redevelopment Act, which granted the New York Power Authority (N.Y.P.A.) a federal license to develop a hydroelectricproducing plant on the United States’ share of the Niagara River. The next year, the N.Y.P.A. began building the nearly 0-million Niagara Power Project, on which I.U.O.E. operating engineers worked from the beginning until it was fully completed in 1963. Niagara Falls, New York, Local No. 463 supplied more than 400 members and hosted more than 1,000 additional operating engineers from locals across the country over the lifespan of the project to fulfill its large manpower needs, which included construction of the Robert Moses Niagara Hydroelectric Power Station, the Lewiston Pump Generating Plant and a man-made, 1,900-acre reservoir. The Niagara Power Project opened in 1961 as the largest hydropower facility in the Western world, with a combined 25 turbines spun by 748,000 gallons of water per second, according to the N.Y.P.A. (Decades later in 2021, Robert Equipment used by members of I.U.O.E. Local No. 4 in Boston on construction of the city’s Dewey Square Tunnel, which would route Interstate 93 under the city’s financial district. (Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.) jurisdictions of the participating unions. To help achieve its mission, the committee established area committees and a National Education and Information Bureau to gather data and provide information to the unions. With a membership of more than 241,000 in 1955 and the union having greatly expanded its services to its increasing number of locals throughout the recent years, the I.U.O.E. international headquarters in the old Carpenters Building in Washington, D.C., was “bursting at the seams,” as an essay in the June 1956 International Operating Engineer described it. To ease its growing pains, the I.U.O.E. decided to construct its own international office building in the heart of the nation’s capital, and in April 1955, the union broke ground for the nearly .2-million facility at 1125 17 th Street, Northwest, which would be opened two years later. Meanwhile, in 1956 the I.U.O.E. established its General Pension Plan for officers and staff of its locals, benefitting thousands of individuals immediately and over the union’s ensuing decades. That year, the federal government established the Highway Trust Fund to provide a more dependable source of funding for the construction of the U.S. Interstate Highway System. In financing the highway system and certain other roads, the fund helped create thousands of jobs for operating engineers well into the future. Members of I.U.O.E. Local No. 463 in Niagara Falls, New York, help build the Robert Moses Niagara Hydroelectric Power Station on the Niagara River during 1960 and 1961 as part of the 0 million Niagara Power Project that began in 1957. (Local 463 was merged into Local No. 17 of Buffalo in May 2019.) LABOR OMNIA VINCIT WORK CONQUERS ALL

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