The headline for your May 11 story asks, "Why Can't This Man Get Hired? Heavy Equipment Operator Gets Shut Out of Local Projects." The short answer is because Mr. Edmonds refuses to accept available work when offered through Local 139.
Local 139 represents approximately 9,000 heavy equipment operators and other employees throughout Wisconsin. As a service to our members, Local 139 operates a nonexclusive referral hall through which our signatory contractors can hire operating engineers.
In just the last two and a half months, Mr. Edmonds has refused or otherwise failed to accept 10 jobs, including six at the Oak Creek Power Plant. That site is the largest construction project in the history of Wisconsin and employs, by far, more of our members than any other job site. Further, he has also refused to accept work for two of the contractors mentioned in your story - Hoffman Construction and Henshue Construction.
While it is true that Local 139 settled a lawsuit in 2002 involving alleged misconduct committed by a prior leadership over a decade ago, Local 139's recent history demonstrates its commitment to operate a fair and nondiscriminatory referral system.
In fact, the highly respected professor Carin Claus of the University of Wisconsin Law School, who was the monitor appointed by the United States District Court to oversee compliance with the settlement, recently issued her final report, in which she found that "there was absolutely no statistical evidence of discrimination by the Union. On the contrary, minorities and women were well served by the referral system."
Terrance E. McGowan
International Union of Operating Engineers