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International Operating Engineer - Summer 2018

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  • Dozer
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The quarterly magazine of the International Union of Operating Engineers

Safety & Health

Safety & Health Anti-union politicians want to cut your pay. “You won’t believe how good fresh air can feel,” Gunderson recalled. he said several times during an interview with Wisconsin News. Reminiscent of a scene from a movie, the Operator was greeted by dozens of people shaking his hand, taking his photo; he in turn offering his gratitude. His father, Robert, was in the crowd along with his mother, Sandra, and his sister, Stacie. And of course, his wife. “When she saw me, it was unbelievable,” Gunderson said. An EMT on the scene examined Gunderson and, finding no physical harm, released him. Lindsay Prokop later drove her husband to Mayo Clinic Health System – Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse where he underwent tests to check oxygen levels in his blood, his lungs, heart, and other functions. The couple has been meeting weekly with a counselor to discuss the trauma. Gunderson said he has not had any post-traumatic experiences such as nightmares. “I think I left it all in the cab,” “Robbie surviving is truly a miracle,” Lindsay Prokop said. “The men digging really believed they were digging for his body as they frantically tried multiple attempts to find this dozer. “At the beginning, when Rob went in, there was no sign of his dozer. The pond was completely still ... When they finally broke the dike, there was still no sign of his machine. The desperate digging where bubbles were was in hopes that was where he was buried. Even with the water clearing, the muck completely had pulled the dozer under, still leaving no trace of him. “The rescue divers started jumping through the muck with ropes tied to them, while others in the boat dug with shovels. Diggers were sliding into the muck as they kept digging. Finally (when the GPS antenna appeared) the team realized the dozer was up to 60 feet from where they initially were digging. Crony capitalists and their friends in Washington keep attacking the prevailing wage laws that protect Operating Engineers. We can’t afford to let them win. OE17-010 “The incident has given Robbie a second chance at life. He has a new appreciation for his family, his friends, Scottie Anderson, his coworkers, and especially his employer. Miracles happen everyday, but to be here today because of the non-stop effort of the rescuers, coworkers, and his employer, Robbie has a special place in his heart for the word, miracle.” She said her husband “reluctantly” took off the remainder of the week to work through his experience. On May 29, he was back on the job, where another emotional scene unfolded. He said, “I will say that I work with basically bad-ass guys. We run heavy equipment. We don’t cry. “And then, one week and one day later (after the accident) we’re hugging. And there were tears.” [left] Local 139 member Robbie Gunderson spent 2.5 hours trapped in this dozer after it slid into a detention pond on May 21 in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin. The dozer was revealed after the pond was drained. Rescuers broke the rear window to permit Gunderson’s escape. Taxpayer money should support skilled workers, not greedy contractors. The Davis-Bacon Act requires that workers on government funded projects be paid equal to local prevailing wages for similar work so tax dollars aren’t used to undercut workers’ pay. Repealing Davis-Bacon means more workplace injuries and fatalities. Untrained, low-paid workers mean unsafe working conditions, which lead to more injuries and fatalities. epi.org/publication/bp215 The federal government sets prevailing wage rates, not unions. The prevailing wage rate is determined by a survey of all local construction wages conducted by the US Department of Labor. Prevailing wage does not raise the cost of construction. Workers paid a decent wage are more productive. Studies show that cuts in wages can actually raise the cost of construction projects. faircontracting.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Wage differential-method-critique-Duncan-2016-1.pdf [article & photos] Dave Backmann, Local 139 Tell your Members of Congress to oppose any efforts to weaken the Davis-Bacon Act. Call today: (202) 224-3121 16 INTERNATIONAL OPERATING ENGINEER SUMMER 2018 17

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