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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 “The record shows, in the span of five decades, how the union built a solid foundation; how it expanded in establishing locals throughout the United States, the Dominion of Canada and the Panama Canal Zone; how it traveled a rough road through labor dissensions and political upheavals; how it weathered depressions, and how it participated physically, politically and economically in the building of America. “It is through this striving for improvement that our organization has advanced to its present standing. Our International Union now is in its best condition in history. A glance at the quarterly financial report shows we are financially secure. Such a healthy condition is ample protection in meeting any emergency.” With a membership of approximately 130,000 engineers and other professionals on its Golden Anniversary, the close-knit structure of the I.U.O.E. had allowed it to establish and maintain standards of wages, reasonable schedules of hours and improved circumstances of employment. The union’s general offices in Washington, D.C., were also modernized, as its various departments had been reorganized to conform to the latest administrative methods and practices. The I.U.O.E. had instituted a system that handled the business of the union with such a high degree of competence highlighted by the installation of a modern accounting system featuring speed and efficiency that other international unions recognized it as a model of proficiency. But in 1947, the U.S. Congress passed the anti-union Taft-Hartley Act (officially known as the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947) over the veto of President Harry Truman, unleashing a torrent of restrictions upon Members of I.U.O.E. Local No. 793 in Ontario, Canada, help construct a subway station in Toronto in 1952. Members of I.U.O.E. Local No. 450 of Houston, Texas, work on a job at the Sheffield Steel Corporation steel mill in Houston in October 1952. organized labor and constraining the powers and activities of labor unions for decades to come. “If it were rigidly administered and enforced, it could wreck the labor movement in the United States,” President Maloney wrote in a report a year after the legislation was passed. “And even if it is administered with moderation, it constitutes a continued threat to the freedom of the labor movement.” Just a month after Taft-Hartley went into effect, however, the I.U.O.E. on August 1, 1947, put into effect a Pension Plan to provide a retirement pension for all employees of the general office and field divisions of the union. That year, the union’s membership also approved by a referendum vote a proposal to increase death benefits for the many members serving in the Armed Forces. The A.F.L. Building and Construction Trades Department and the Associated General Contractors of America then established the National Joint Board for the Settlement of LABOR OMNIA VINCIT Jurisdictional Disputes on March 11, 1948. The board gave construction unions such as the I.U.O.E. and their employers procedures and mechanisms for settling jurisdictional differences without government interference. The decade closed out with another historic triumph when Local No. 98 of Springfield, Massachusetts, in December 1949 became the first local in the I.U.O.E. to institute an employerfunded Health and Welfare Insurance program for its membership as part of its collectivebargaining agreement with contractors. With assistance from the international office, the local gained the groundbreaking new benefit, which would be financed through a 3-percent payroll contribution from its contractors, in a new contract it had won after a five-week-long strike. Growth Warrants a New Home A surge in construction of nuclearenergy plants and petroleum pipelines throughout North America fueled WORK CONQUERS ALL

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