Representatives of the Minnesota Construction Laborers Union are ready to celebrate their accomplishments in being an integral part of the safe completion of the new Central Corridor Metro Transit Green Line light rail route which fully links the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
While the official opening ceremony is slated for St. Paul’s Historic Union Depot on Saturday, June 14, at 10:00 AM, some Minnesota Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) members who worked on the project are gathering at the Western Station in St. Paul from 9 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. that day to reflect on their accomplishment. These Union workers, dressed in high visibility vests, aim to express their appreciation for the project and being a part of history and the future of transportation and transit in Minnesota.
The Minnesota Laborers – Employers Cooperation & Education Trust (LECET), an affiliate of the Laborers Union has implemented a public awareness campaign with 5 separate promotional messages to be installed inside 25 of the Green Line train cars focused on transit ridership during a nine-week campaign. The messaging shares the significance and positive impact the project had and even promotes opportunities in the construction trades as well.
The Green Line project, estimated to cost nearly $1 Billion, is an 11 mile route with 18 new stations stretching from Target Field to the St. Paul Union Depot. The Metropolitan Council estimates that over 5,400 construction and related jobs were created by the project. The project is already leveraging another $2.5 billion in related private development. The official opening ceremony will feature the Mayors of both cities along with other local, state and national leaders. For union workers, it is important to recognize the hard work done in a project that will forever change the way many residents commute between Minnesota’s two largest cities.
“This project started at a time when the construction industry was in a very deep recession,” said Todd Pufahl, President of the Laborers District Council of Minnesota & North Dakota. “When the work began in 2010, well over 700 of our members were employed on the project and did a fantastic job in their roles on this amazing project. We are very proud of our partner signatory contractors and our skilled construction craft laborers have accomplished. It is quite remarkable actually.”
The June 14 grand opening will be a day to celebrate both the completion of the Green Line and future opportunities. “The Green Line will do great things for commuters and the communities it runs through,” said Pufahl. “We look forward to the projected $2.5 Billion in economic development along the line literally building the community. We are also anxious and ready to get going on the Southwest Corridor project. Our skilled Construction Craft Laborers are skilled and ready to help improve quality of life and transportation choices for all of us.”
To prepare members for working on the Green Line project, the Minnesota Laborers Training Center in Lino Lakes, MN developed a special eight hour Introduction to Light Rail Construction training class. The class served 742 Laborers Union members, which translates to an investment of $250,000 made by members and the training center to prepare the skilled workforce for this just-completed project. The course covered rail installation, technical discussion, project sequencing, terminology, economics, hand tools and equipment used for track installation. “We were able to secure actual materials, ties and track for use in this class from a signatory union contractor on a previous project,” said Russell Beyer, Director of Training for the Minnesota Laborers Training Center. “Our mission is to meet the needs of our LIUNA members and signatory contractors so they can take on and successfully complete specialized projects like the Green Line and other work that might come along. Most of the contractors on this project required skilled Laborers to take this class.”
The specialized training that was used has been modeled after similar training done for mobilizing workers for projects in the pipeline and oil and gas industry. “Our Minnesota Construction Laborers Training Center is very fluid,” remarked Pufahl. “When it comes to significant project work, we have been able to move quickly to get members trained and ready for the project at hand. The Union contractors, who are the ones hiring skilled laborers really understand the benefits of the Minnesota Laborers Training Center. Having a reliable skilled workforce is something they depend on and need. For them it is what sets them apart and allows them to maintain their successful business strategy over many years.”
Over the 3-1/2 year project, skilled Laborers performed the following tasks on the Green Line project: poured concrete for sidewalks and embedded track and all approach areas, installed sewer and water utilities, completed curb and gutter concrete work, installed asphalt in road areas, installed rail track, performed Line & Grade and GPS layout, did the safety flagging for all crafts and material deliveries, installed landscape pavers and greenery & other work.