2 years ago

125 Years Strong – An IUOE History

  • Text
  • Wwwiuoeorg
  • Vincit
  • Omnia
  • Engineer
  • Convention
  • Membership
  • Locals
  • Operating
  • Engineers
Celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the founding of the International Union of Operating Engineers


INTERNATIONAL UNION OF OPERATING ENGINEERS Fending Off Added Assaults At 40 years old, the I.U.O.E by 1937 was firmly established and widely recognized as a leading craft union of skilled tradesmen. As such, it was wellpositioned to meet any attack against itself and its sovereignty two of which came in 1937. First, in an apparent attempt to deny to practical operating engineers the right to be promoted to positions of supervisor or chief engineer, the National Society of Professional Engineers launched legislative campaigns in various states to prevent the use of the word “engineer” by anyone other than a degreed engineer, including members of the I.U.O.E. The union responded in kind, forming legislative committees and successfully fighting the measures in every state capitol where they were introduced, including New York, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Texas, Nebraska, California and Washington, D.C. In order to further protect the union, General Secretary-Treasurer Frank A. Fitzgerald registered the I.U.O.E. trademark in the U.S. Patent Office, ensuring no infringement on the organization’s right to its title and insignia. Later in the year, the I.U.O.E. won another important decision when the A.F.L. convention in Denver upheld its Executive Council’s ruling for the engineers in a jurisdictional dispute with the Quarry Workers’ International Union. The Executive Council had decided that the quarry workers’ jurisdiction did not extend to any piles, pits or distribution yards where sand, stone, gravel, slag or trap and crushed rock was excavated and loaded, dredged, blasted, crushed, screened, sized, stored and distributed for building and construction work. The latter part of the 1930s also saw heavy employment for operating engineers on massive public-works programs. Large undertakings employing thousands of I.U.O.E. members included the great dams of the Tennessee Valley Authority; the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River in Washington state, which after completion in 1942 would be the largest hydropower producer in the United States; and the Bartlett Dam in the Arizona desert, the highest multiple-arch dam in the world when completed in 1939. (The public took such a strong interest in watching operating engineers working on those and other historic projects with their impressive machinery that the government erected grandstands, installed loudspeakers and telescopes, and built parking lots for the multitudes of spectators.) Into 1938, the growing use of diesel engines in the construction industry had required Delegates and their guests attend the I.U.O.E. 21 st Convention banquet at the Raleigh Hotel in Washington, D.C., on April 17, 1940. Members of I.U.O.E. Local No. 793 in Ontario, Canada, build the Rainbow Bridge over the Niagara River gorge between Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Niagara Falls, New York, in 1941. (Overlooking the world-famous Niagara waterfalls, Rainbow Bridge was built near the site of the Honeymoon Bridge that collapsed on January 27, 1938, as the result of an ice jam in the river.) operating engineers to become proficient in operating diesel-powered machinery. In a letter to the membership, General President Possehl advised that members who operate diesel engines were “engineers in the fullest sense of the word” and were to “be accepted into local unions as full-fledged engineers on the same terms as those engineers who operated any other kind of equipment.” Members then voted overwhelmingly that year through a referendum ballot for major revisions in the union’s constitution and general laws that would ensure the union would always be governed democratically by the membership. To honor that edict, a Constitution Revision Committee convened at Atlantic City, New Jersey, on August 11 recommended major alterations that included changing all active charters by inserting the territorial jurisdiction granted to each local union; modifying the vested authority of the international union; allowing locals to elect officers for periods of one to four years and adding provisions for the recall of local officers; adding provisions to protect the interests of locals and their memberships during strikes and lockouts; and adding provisions for setting convention dates and holding conventions every four years. (Under the 1928 constitution, the only provision for holding a convention was through a referendum vote; under the new constitution, conventions would have to be held unless the membership voted to postpone them.) The revised constitution was decisively adopted by a referendum vote of members on December 31, 1938. Yet another jurisdictional controversy arose in 1939 when the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Stablemen and Helpers of America claimed it should represent anyone who operated power-driven equipment on buildings and construction work. Following lengthy hearings, a special committee named by the Executive Council of the Building and Construction Trades Department of the A.F.L. ruled that all power-driven equipment used on any type of construction work, including all power-driven equipment that was in dispute between the teamsters and the operating engineers, came under the jurisdiction of the I.U.O.E. LABOR OMNIA VINCIT WORK CONQUERS ALL

©2010 International Union of Operating Engineers. All Rights Reserved.|Terms Of Use|Privacy Statement|Sitemap