International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49
MN Legislative Agenda 2013
The main focus of our lobbying effort will be the creation of construction jobs in Minnesota. Operating Engineers work in many different industries across Minnesota and we will be pursuing job growth in all of them, including the public sector. We will also work on policy issues that further the goal of public infrastructure projects being done by responsible contractors who deliver a good product to the public, in a safe manner, while saving taxpayers money in the long term.
Job Creation Initiatives That We Will Support
Expansion of the Mall of America/Proposed Expansion of Bloomington Office Park Need approval of TIF or other local property tax relief options that will help leverage these projects and produce thousands of construction jobs.
New Investment in Transportation System
Minnesota will pass a comprehensive transportation bill this year, we will push hard to make sure this includes new revenue dedicated to transportation. Several options are available for both transit and roads and we will support any deal that comes together that brings new money to the table. We will await the Governor’s proposal and work with Legislative Leaders to make sure that transportation revenue is a top priority for this session. We will involve our members in this campaign while working with contractors and other allies to bring public attention to the need for improvements in the transportation system and the jobs that depend on this investment.
We believe there are shovel ready projects that can improve the infrastructure of Minnesota while benefiting local communities and creating jobs. We will advocate for a robust bonding bill that focuses on job creating projects.
Local Government Aid
Cities and Counties have taken the brunt of budget cutting at the State Capitol for years. This has put the ability of communities to provide critical services in jeopardy. Local 49 members plow the roads and fix the streets in many communities in this state, and we will support attempts to restore Local Government Aid funding that helps communities pay for these critical services. These are good jobs, and our people are highly skilled and productive employees. We will work with our employers to make sure local communities have the funding they need.
Job Killing Measures We Will Work to Oppose
Attempts to Stop Copper-Nickel Mining
There could be attempts to limit the growth of this industry this session, and we will oppose these efforts. If there are serious attempts to put environmental protections in place that do not have the intention of simply killing the industry, we are open to those discussions. The potential for thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of good paying long term operation jobs exist in this new endeavor, and we will not be shy about voicing our strong support for this industry.
Attempts to Stop Industrial Sand Mining
There could also be attempts to stop the mining of industrial sand in Minnesota. We are sitting on perhaps the largest deposit of this sand in the country, and if we allow the industry to get off the ground, the potential for hundreds of good paying jobs is a reality. These are long term jobs, 15-20 years in length. Wisconsin also has large deposits of this sand. They have already gotten their industry up and running, and are creating hundreds of jobs a year.
The opponents of oil production could try to pass a statewide moratorium on industrial sand mining, or they could try to force a statewide Environmental Impact Statement that would essentially halt all projects for years. We will oppose any effort to stop this industry, and will be arguing that the state should stay out of this issue altogether and let local communities decide for themselves if they want the jobs that it brings.
Strengthening Apprenticeship Programs
We will pursue policy changes that give the Department of Labor and Industry the necessary authority to ensure that registered apprenticeship programs are providing the training that apprentices will need to succeed in their industry. Giving DOLI more authority to hold registered programs accountable for not providing what they have promised to provide to apprentices is critical if we are to ensure that Minnesota has a skilled workforce for the future.
In addition, it will be important to make sure employers that want to start a registered apprenticeship program have the plans and capitol in place to ensure their programs are successful. This will require a tougher look at the plans put forward by employers who wish to register programs. We simply can’t afford to allow employers to put together paper only programs in order to gain the benefits of having a registered program without any intention of actually training workers and graduating them. This isn’t fair to the workers, and it is not fair to the businesses in this state that run good programs.
Enhancing Enforcement of Prevailing Wage
For a long time, the state prevailing wage law was largely ignored. Prevailing Wage language was not put into all state contracts as the law required and when violations were brought forward they were not aggressively investigated. Thankfully, due to the efforts of the Governor and his Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner, this has changed. There has been a serious effort to enforce prevailing wage laws in Minnesota for the last two years. Unfortunately, these efforts are hampered by a lack of adequate funding for staff. We will be looking to support more funding for prevailing wage enforcement. DOLI has done remarkably well the last two years while being short-staffed. They have found more law breakers; have brought more of them to justice, and all Minnesota construction workers have benefited. We need to give them the tools they need to cover more ground. No worker in Minnesota should be forced to work for substandard area wages because our government doesn’t have the resources to enforce the laws that are meant to protect them.