Jesse Lindgren has more than 20 years experience in the underground construction industry before being brought on part-time as the Sewer and Water Instructor at the Local 49 Training Center.
After graduating high school, Lindgren went into the construction industry and says he’s always worked in some type of underground construction.
“My buddy’s dad owned the first company I worked for and for the first four years I traveled all over the U.S. replacing manholes,” he said.
In order to be closer to home, Lindgren began to work for a sewer and water contractor as a Laborer – Local 563. “I was part of Laborers 563 for 10 years where I started as the bottom man laying pipe,” Lindgren said.
He eventually worked his way up to operating loaders, dozers and even operating the main line backhoe. He became a member of Local 49 when he started working for Kuechle Underground, and has been there for 10 years.
“I do want to thank Jerome Kuechle who took a chance and hired me when work was slow…I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of the contractors who hired me,” Lindgren said.
Lindgren says being in the sewer and water industry can be stressful due to the exact precision and attention to detail that is needed.
“Running the main line backhoe is definitely the most challenging part of the job,” Lindgren said. “You have to worry about utilities, if you’re digging in a safe ditch, and you’re also kind of setting the pace for the rest of the crew…they can only put in the pipe so fast behind you.”
Lindgren said he was up at the Local 49 Training Center taking classes himself when he heard of the part-time sewer and water instructor opportunity.
“I heard what the job entailed and I thought it would be a good fit for me,” he said.
As the part-time Sewer and Water Instructor at the Local 49 Training Center he teaches members the basics of performing sewer and water work.
“During the four week class we do a 17 ft. deep cut, a 10 ft. deep sewer cut, and they learn how to bury water main and storm sewer,” he said.
Lindgren says that as an instructor it took him a little while to learn how to explain something he has done for years in a classroom setting.
“Once I explain something in the classroom, and then we go out and do it in the field and I watch them (members) get it and understand it, it makes me feel really good,” he said. “What they learn is something they can always take with them, especially since there’s such a need for this type of work.”
“It’s a tough job, there’s long hours and it’s fast paced,” Lindgren added. “Everybody is in a certain position and every position needs to pull their own weight, but it’s a successful and rewarding career.”
Lindgren also takes time in his classes to educate members on the importance of getting involved in the union, and all of the benefits they have access to.
“About three years I started getting more involved in union meetings, and it feels good to make it those meetings to see what kind of work is out there and hear what’s going on that affects us,” Lindgren said.
Lindgren added, “The more people that get involved, the more people are (then) aware of the issues we’re facing, which makes us a stronger union.”
For more stories like Jesse’s visit www.local49training.org