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International Operating Engineer - Spring 2019

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The quarterly magazine of the International Union of Operating Engineers

Healthcare New Peer

Healthcare New Peer Training Program Tackles Lifestyle Issues IN APRIL, thirty-nine students and four instructors walked into a classroom at the International Training & Education Center and walked out three days later sharing an unbreakable bond. These members, representing more than two dozen IUOE Locals from around the country, came together not for traditional skills training, but to address a troubling and growing threat to IUOE members everywhere—lifestyle issues. Lifestyle issues range from substance abuse, suicide, behavioral health disorders, or anything that adversely affects day-today life. As each person walked in for the introductory peer-training course, each one brought their experiences and emotions with them. The stories shared in class will forever change the students and instructors. These days, it is almost impossible to find someone who has not been affected by addiction, suicide and behavioral health disorders. Statistics and definitions can be quoted all day long, however, it is the personal experiences and bonding that really makes this new course unique and the effort of becoming a workplace peer meaningful. There were laughs and there were tears, but one thing for certain was everyone left with an irreplaceable bond. Every day we preach about taking care of our brothers and sisters, but with the rise in suicides amongst the industry and the rise in substance abuse, these issues cannot be ignored anymore. It is time we face this issue collectively and get those who are struggling the help they need, and back to work safely. Several Locals are developing their own Member Assistance Programs to help these struggling members. We can do more. Due to the success and the ongoing necessity of Member Assistance Programs, more classes will be Lawsuit Seeks to Hold Drug Companies Accountable for the Opioid Epidemic IUOE LOCAL 150 and the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters (CRCC) have filed a lawsuit against leading opioid manufacturers, distributors, and prescribers. The joint lawsuit seeks damages for defendants’ efforts to maximize profits at the expense of union members’ lives, families, and communities. It is the first opioid lawsuit brought by Illinois unions. scheduled at the International Training Center for the end of this year and into 2020. For more information, please contact Ashley Dwyer at adwyer@ The lawsuit seeks to recover the unions’ costs relating to the opioid epidemic, which has disproportionately affected their membership of more than 30,000 carpenters and 23,000 operating engineers throughout Illinois, Northern Indiana, and Eastern Iowa and has led to the loss of union members at an alarming rate. Local 150 Business Manager and International Vice President James Sweeney said his members were prescribed opioids that, “have little if any medical benefit and lead to addiction, despair and death, while our welfare funds have been compelled to shoulder the unjustifiable financial burden of related health care and disability payments.” Construction industry workers have a higher incidence of opioidrelated overdose deaths than any other occupation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The union lawsuit alleges that opioid manufacturers carried out a targeted misinformation campaign to promote opioid use. “For decades, Manufacturer Defendants deployed an intricate and highly misleading misinformation campaign that overstated the benefits and downplayed the risks of long-term opioid treatment for chronic pain,” according to the lawsuit. “This marketing scheme – designed, supported, and executed by Manufacturer Defendants – was devised to push increased opioid sales and expand the chronic pain market.” An estimated 15% of construction workers have a substance abuse disorder, compared to the national average of 8.6%, according to a 2017 survey by the National Safety Council. Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters Executive Secretary- Treasurer Gary Perinar said it was time for the corporations to step up and take responsibility for their role in the opioid crisis. “Our lawsuit aims to recover the health, dignity and economic welfare of our communities, and to help ensure that nothing like this ever happens again,” he said in a statement. DuPont Workers in Texas Vote to Unionize, Join Local 564 ENGINEERS AT DUPONT’S Bayport chemical plant in Pasadena, Texas voted overwhelmingly to join IUOE Local 564 in April after a short, but intense organizing campaign. The plant workers voted 28-2 to become part of Local 564, which represents 2,100 IUOE members in Texas. The Bayport workers were uncertain about how the planned spinoff of DuPont from parent company DowDupont would affect their jobs and working conditions. “With the spin-off of DowDupont, people are unsure about the future, so they wanted a contract,” said Jason Turnmire, lead organizer with Local 564. ”Nobody’s certain what these corporations are going to do, but it never hurts to have a say-so at the end of the day ... and to actually sit down and bargain.” As the workers began to organize, DuPont plant management actively encouraged employees to vote against unionizing and sent letters to each of them arguing that a union was “a bad idea.” But the workers and Local 564 would not be intimidated. Organizing “I am proud to say that when it became necessary to fight for our way of life, the International Union of Operating Engineers did not hesitate to stand up with us and support us through the process,” said Justin Morgan after the election. Local 564 filed four unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging the company made coercive statements meant to squash workers’ attempts to unionize. Under national labor law, companies cannot interfere with unionization. In a prepared statement, the company said, “DuPont respects the rights of its employees to make this decision for themselves. The Bayport site is operating under business as usual conditions and expects to do so as we continue to prepare for the intended separation as an independent company on June 1, 2019.” [above] Front row L to R: Chris Paske, Edwin Dudley, Alex Windfont, Ariel Supleveda, Tommy Armstrong Back row L to R: Octavio Flores, David Griffin, Chad Dudley, Justin K Morgan, Lonnie Maxwell [photo] Jason Turnmire, Local 564 12 INTERNATIONAL OPERATING ENGINEER SPRING 2019 13

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