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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. Marine Division Local No. 25, based in New Jersey and covering the entire eastern seaboard of the United States, meet on the deck of the Dredge Georgia during a job sometime in the late 1970s. Brother Tom McClain Sr., the only living charter member of I.U.O.E. Local No. 320 of Florence, Alabama, at the time and the local’s first president and business manager, stands in 1979 in front of the house in which the local’s seven signers of its charter held the local’s first meeting on December 17, 1933. two days later, the potential for catastrophic environmental impact was averted, according to the management of American Dredging Company, by more than 175 members of the local’s Marine Division working around the clock for more than a week, including the Fourth of July holiday, to substantially complete the cleanup. Picking up the pieces of a shattered San Francisco Bay Area in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck there on the evening of October 17, 1989, fell on the broad collective shoulders of members of I.U.O.E. hoisting and portable Local No. 3 and stationary Local No. 39 of San Francisco. Local No. 3 engineers were on the front lines of recovery almost immediately, conducting rescue missions, clearing debris and helping to restore vital utilities, while their cranes were soon at work on the collapsed Nimitz Freeway, the damaged Bay Bridge and other structures affected by the quake, which killed 63 people and caused an estimated billion in property damage. As the decade was drawing to a close, signs indicated that the I.U.O.E. recovery efforts were getting results while also making its signatory contractors more competitive. The union’s modest increase of more than 2,300 new members during the first nine months of 1989 was still a gain, nonetheless, and the union was organizing in the construction, stationary, industrial and public sectors in areas that just three years earlier could not be organized. Reflecting on those achievements and the capacity for continued success, General President Dugan announced in the December 1989 International Operating Engineer, “Our program is working and working well.” Innovation Fuels the Revival General Secretary-Treasurer Frank Hanley was unanimously selected general president of the I.U.O.E. by the union’s General Executive Board after Brother Dugan announced in early 1990 that health issues would force him to leave office before his term expired in April 1993. Upon assuming his new duties on February 1, 1990, with 30 years of experience in the union behind him, General President Hanley began eliminating and merging departments in the international offices to concentrate resources in key areas and place qualified people in top staff positions. (2) The new administration also updated office equipment and computer systems, and its General Executive Board would eventually be composed of experienced and successful local business managers, according to Union Resilience in Troubled Times, “who would be policymakers rather than rubber-stamp approvers.” But organizing would be the union’s highest priority, and the Executive Board during its April 1990 meeting unanimously affirmed three recommendations and a financial package by General President Hanley to reemphasize the international’s commitment to recruiting new members by providing its locals additional incentives and resources to establish ongoing organizing programs. Announcing those initiatives in that month’s International Operating Engineer, President Hanley stated: LABOR OMNIA VINCIT WORK CONQUERS ALL

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