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125 Years Strong – An IUOE History

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Celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the founding of the International Union of Operating Engineers


INTERNATIONAL UNION OF OPERATING ENGINEERS New York City Schools custodians who are members of I.U.O.E. Local No. 891 in Brooklyn attend training sessions on school-heating maintenance in 1946. including new housing, schools, hospitals, roads, industrial buildings and churches, also created a construction glut that helped keep operating engineers working. (1) However, readjustment in some industries from wartime to peacetime production resulted in a lull in employment for some engineers around the United States. For instance, many members of Local No. 564 in Texas were laid off after the war ended when the massive Dow Chemical Company plants in its jurisdiction stopped producing for war and were shut down until new uses or new markets developed. In July of 1946, the idled Dow plants reopened and the local’s laid-off members were recalled. The numerous post-war projects requiring the skilled services of I.U.O.E. members included tunnels through the Cascade Mountain range, the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel under the East River in New York City, and flood-control and navigation projects in various sections of the nation. Construction of the -million Columbia Basin Project to pump irrigation water throughout east-central Washington state and the 0-million New York International Airport in New York City (later renamed John F. Kennedy International), which would be the world’s largest airport when completed in 1948, were also underway and employing scores of union engineers. In Chicago, the world’s largest water filtration works were placed in operation during that time after the city’s mayor selected Brother Matt J. McBride of Local No. 556 as chief engineer of the -million plant. It was also during this time that, under General President Maloney’s direction, the I.U.O.E. began to enter into vastly more International Agreements for its hoisting and portable trades with many of the large, national construction contractors operating all over the United States. Consequently, between January 1942 and May 1952, the union’s number of international agreements with industrial construction firms, pipeline contractors and railway-track contractors would increase from 45 to a total of 238. The pacts proved to be of great assistance to the union in territories that were traditionally operated on a non-union, open-shop basis, and had a positive effect as an organizing tool in protecting the union’s jurisdiction and in meeting its manpower responsibilities to the industry. (1) Enjoying some of the most lucrative conditions in its existence, on December 7, 1946, the I.U.O.E. reached the 50 th Anniversary since it was formed by 11 operating engineers during a meeting in Chicago. To mark the milestone occasion, General President Maloney and General Secretary-Treasurer Fitzgerald saluted the union’s first half century in their forward for the 50 th Anniversary edition of The International Engineer: Members of I.U.O.E. Local No. 564 of Richwood, Texas, work at one of the Dow Chemical plants in its jurisdiction sometime during the late 1940s. LABOR OMNIA VINCIT WORK CONQUERS ALL

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