IUOE Local 49’s training facility is functional year-round and is open from 7:30 to 4:00 Monday through Friday. Some training sessions do happen on Saturday, but only by previous agreement. The training center has 3 full-time office staff, 7 full-time instructors and 5 part-time instructors on hand depending on participant members and facility needs.
We opened this 65,000-square-foot facility in 2006 complete with ten (10) state-of-the-art classrooms, six (6) large shop bays, a welding shop, and two wash bays. Located conveniently between Duluth and the Twin Cities in Minnesota, the facility includes 30,000 square feet of enclosed space to serve as an indoor area for winter/all-weather training.
Since there was no access to natural gas for heating this far outside an urban area, Minnesota-based Krech, O’Brien, Mueller & Associates (KOMA) helped Local 49 design a vast, efficient geothermal system with over 122 wells in the grassy area adjacent to the main facility. The geo-thermal system provides in-floor heating throughout the mechanical areas and shop bays. A heat pump system supplies the Training Center with hot water. There is also a massive make-up air system.
KOMA also designed the building’s orientation to take advantage of east-west breezes that flow through the shop bays, and the materials used in the exterior siding help with heat gain during winter months.
Local 49 Class Resources
This page is here for you to learn about the class you are going to take in the coming weeks. The purpose of providing you with this information is so we can make the best use of class time and allow for more machine operation. It is mandatory that you read through this information prior to coming to class. When you come to training, there will be evaluation questions on some of the information contained in the prerequisite presentation. Make sure you write down any questions you may have on this information so you can bring it up with your instructor when you get to class.
At the top of the page, click on the class for which you are signed up. In doing so, you will be directed to a new page where you will find the class prerequisite presentation. Additionally, you will find a list of what you will need to bring with you to class.
We look forward to having you in class! Coming to training is a great way to enhance your skills and make you more employable. Remember, every hour you spend in training is potentially another hour you will get to spend on the job!
Kyle Bleeker has been around heavy equipment all his life, while he began his career in the industry as a Laborer, now he’s starting his journey as an operating engineer working at Lunda Construction and completing Phase I of the crane apprenticeship program at the Local 49 Training Center.
“I started as a Laborer with Lunda Construction right out of high school, but after seven and a half years I finally got my foot in the door with the 49ers,” Bleeker said.
Immediately when he began his career at Lunda, Bleeker gravitated toward cranes.
“The way they operate, how they work, and what they can do just kind of blew my mind,” Bleeker said. “I always heard my dad talk about what cranes can do, but I never really understood it until I saw it up close.”
Even though Bleeker had an instant interest in cranes he said he has operated skid loaders, excavators, dozers, and forklifts – just to name a few – but is looking forward to sticking with cranes. “I can do it all if I had to, but now that I’m into cranes I definitely want to stay there,” he said.
Bleeker has only been a member of Local 49 for a year but is making the most of it by taking several classes at the Local 49 Training Center and likes the split between time in the classroom and hands-on experience. “I like the variety of what you can do, with the 49ers you’re in the classroom half of the time and then you’re out doing things, and they have a variety of types of equipment to learn on,” he said.
Bleeker began the four-week-long crane apprenticeship program in the spring of 2017. “I worked with Ryan O’Gary – crane apprenticeship instructor – for years and he taught me the ropes and got my foot in the door with Local 49 in the first place,” Bleeker explained.
“Plus sitting in on a class I was comfortable asking a question, they always said ‘no question is a dumb question’ and that’s how they made me feel which was a good thing,” he added.
Now that Bleeker has completed Phase I of the crane apprenticeship program, he will be gearing up for Phase II, which will begin in February, and will primarily be focused on preparing for the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCO) exam.
“A lot of people can go out and run a piece of equipment, but to know how to actually operate it and understand how it works, that’s another thing,” Bleeker said. “So I think Phase II will be really pounding a lot of that information to pass that test so we can be a successful crane operator.”
Bleeker said that after he completes Phase II of the crane apprenticeship program, he’s looking forward to gaining his certification and plans to take the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) class at the Training Center and obtain his CDL.
Mitch Mclntyre – a 23-year-old Local 49 member from Cresco, Iowa – has been soaking up as much knowledge as he can at the Operating Engineers Local 49 Training Center during the off-season. So much so that he enrolled in the Training Center’s Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) class on a Monday and passed the CDL test – obtaining his CDL – on that Friday.
Mclntyre explained that while it was his first time driving a commercial-sized vehicle, he picked up the lessons very quickly.
“It’s a lot of information in four days, and it wasn’t easy,” Mclntyre said. “ But Randy Parker (CDL Instructor at the Training Center) is a good guy and a great instructor so I give my hats off to him for teaching me the way he did.”
Mclntyre also noted that he received a 100% score on the pre-trip portion of the CDL test. The pre-trip portion of the test is designed to test your ability to check a variety of commercial vehicle safety equipment and vehicle components. This portion happens before you take the driving component of the test.
“I was told it was the best score on a pre-trip that they (Minnesota Department of Motor Vehicle Services) have seen in a long time, so I was pretty proud of that,” he said.
Mclntyre currently works for Rochester Sand and Gravel, and has only been a member of Local 49 since November 2016, but says he has learned so much through his employer and by attending classes at the Training Center.
“So far at the Training Center I’ve taken the stakes and grades class, small equipment class, OSHA 30, and I also did the asphalt and paving class,” Mclntyre said.
Mclntyre is also active in Local 49 and encourages younger members to attend their local monthly union meeting.
“For those that don’t go, you should because there is a lot more information that you probably don’t know about including your benefits,” Mclntyre explained. “Some of the benefits and other things are changing so you have to keep up on that stuff.”
Even thought Mclntyre is fairly new to the industry he is enjoying his time and encourages other younger people make this career choice.
“It can be long hours, but the money is great, and you don’t only get free training you also get really great health benefits,” Mclntyre explained. “And you know your business agent is there to help you, so there’s a lot of great opportunities with the 49ers.”
Mclntyre’s final advice to those looking to get into the heavy equipment industry is to get into an apprenticeship program.
“Get in an apprenticeship program like the 49ers, you don’t have to go to college to earn a good living, there’s a lot of great opportunities with Local 49,” he said.
QHow do I apply for the training to become an apprentice?
Go the website under the “Apprenticeship” tab and click on “Application for Apprenticeship”. Applications are fillable online or can be printed and mailed/faxed to the Training Center. A confirmation e-mail will be sent to the applicant and he/she will also be notified by mail about informational meeting dates held at the Training Center (meetings are held early in the calendar year). The Apprenticeship Program and the process for pre-apprentice training will be explained at these meetings, as well as covering information on the industry, i.e. hiring, pay scale, and work sites. Applicants must attend one of these mandatory meetings to be eligible for consideration for the pre-apprenticeship training.
QDo I need experience to apply?
NO, Applicants do not need experience on heavy equipment or any specialized schooling to apply. You must have a High School or GED diploma.
QCan I receive credit for past experience and/or schooling as an operator?
YES, This information should be disclosed on the application. Credited hours can be credited based on the type and amount of schooling. Work experience will be credited in the same manner, but also has to be approved/verified by the employer.
QDo you give applicants a list of contractors?
YES, All applicants are given a list of signatory contractors in their geographical area for them to contact.
QHow do I increase my chances of becoming an apprentice?
How do I increase my chances of becoming an apprentice:
Get accepted into the pre-apprenticeship program
Question: How do I get into pre-apprenticeship program?
Answer: Your chances are increased by attending an informational meeting, passing the Ramsey basics skills test, taking a self-descriptive test and being selected for an interview.
By obtaining a “Letter of intent” from a signatory contractor and passing the Ramsey basic skills test.