Heavy equipment operators advocate for jobs

International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 union members had their Capitol Day Tuesday, which included a rally where Governor Mark Dayton and other elected officials spoke.  More than 300 members gathered in the rotunda and second floor for the rally, then broke off to meet with their legislators from throughout the state. 

I approached someone along the edges of the crowd following the rally and asked, "Why are you here today?" His response, "I want to work." It is that simple.

This article was written by Jessica Hayssen

He is not alone. Job creation has been the beating drum of the middle class. Yet, in many states, instead of taking up the drumbeat, greedy CEO-backed legislators have turned anti-worker legislation up to 11 in an attempt to silence and divide us.

Make no mistake; we have the very same attacks on workers as in other states. And we are fighting back. Here in Minnesota, we have a Governor who will stand up for workers and help the middle class.

Operating Engineers Local 49 members continued that drum beat in the Capitol halls. They advocated for job creation, which means supporting Governor Dayton’s jobs and infrastructure bill that will put people back to work. These are good construction jobs that we know helps families.

They advocated for protection of Prevailing Wage which ensures that cheap labor contractors don’t take away our family supporting jobs. 49ers also asked legislators to not support any so-called “Right to Work” constitutional amendment, or as Gov. Dayton said at the rally, “the right to work for nothin’.

Operating Engineer Joe KramerONE Union member's profile

Operating Engineer Joe Kramer came down from Watkins to talk to his legislators. A 25-year union member, Joe has seen jobs leave his St. Cloud area community. He used to work highway/heavy equipment but in the past few years has been working on different projects in neighboring states. Currently he is working to maintain a pipeline along the U.S. and Canadian border.

Joe sees how the lack of jobs affects families and communities. “We want to work, that way we can put money back into our communities.” That’s right, and protecting those jobs with Prevailing wage has helped Joe raise a family.

“I have three kids that are in college right now. I can’t imagine how we would get by if it weren’t for Prevailing Wage.”

“I’m here today to hold the politicians feet to the fire. I want them to live up to the job creation promises they ran upon last November. You know, jobs jobs jobs. It’s priority number one.”

Jessica Hayssen is field director for the Minnesota AFL-CIO. She wrote this article for the federation’s website.