Nick Tangen

Nick Tangen credits his father, a Local 49 operator for 30 years, for getting him interested in the industry.

“My dad often told me it’s not always easy work, but it’s the best union to be a part of, raise a family on and know you’re secure,” said Tangen who has been in the Local 49 Crane Apprenticeship Program for a year and a half.

Tangen has completed both Phase One and Phase Two of the Crane Apprenticeship Program, and says it’s a lot more work than what the public may believe.

“It’s a lot more complex than I ever thought; I think to the public it looks like we’re just sitting there pulling levers, but there’s so much more to it than that,” Tangen stated.

While Tangen is focused on operating cranes, he said he is looking forward to taking other classes to broaden his heavy equipment knowledge.

“I really want to take a pile-driving class and get into more of the dirt side—just to expand my knowledge in case I ever need to find a job that isn’t crane related,” Tangen said.

While in the Apprenticeship Program, Tangen received some real on-the-job experience working for several contractors such as Vic’s Crane Service, Lunda Construction and Schroder Crane Rental.

“You really do learn 90 percent of what you need to while out in the field,” Tangen said. “Everyone is more than willing to help you prosper in this field.”

Tangen said one of his more memorable on-the-job experiences was working at the St. Paul Park Refinery.

“Refineries are incredibly safe, and they do everything by the book so I got to learn how to tear down and move cranes around, and how to make the perfect pic,” he said.

“Refineries are a different ball game than building a bridge, for example, so I thought it was memorable learning how the refineries do it compared to everyone else,” Tangen added.

Tangen said that the Apprenticeship program prepared him for his real on-the-job experiences.

“The Training Center provides an opportunity for us to get all of the training we need to be the best operators we can be,” Tangen said. “We have an amazing union and great teachers at the Training Center that give us the training and opportunity we need to succeed.”

Tangen also noted that he makes it a point to try and make it to every union meeting and encourages every member – particularly younger members – to attend.

“What they are explaining at the meetings is about you, and it’s going to better our union and our work,” Tangen said. “We’re talking about stuff that affects us that can either make or break us as a union. If there’s one thing you do, go to a union meeting.”

For more information on the Training Center and more stories like Nick, visit


Union Meetings at the Training Center!

The Local 49 Training Center will be hosting Union Meetings every fourth Wednesday of the month in February, March and April!

The Union Meetings are for members only and they will begin at 4 PM on Feb. 22, March. 22 and April 26.

Business Agents from all over Local 49’s jurisdiction will be attending the meetings as well to answer questions members may have.

For more information please contact the Training Center at 320-384-7093.

Local 49 Training Center Address: 40276 Fishtail Road Hinckley, MN 55037

Sealed Bid Auction Begins!

The Operating Engineers Local 49 Training Center is having a sealed bid auction for these Skidsteer Leveling Bar attachments, measuring 48 x 72, that were made by our Union members that attended the welding classes! The auction begins January 11 and will end on February 15th. The bids begin at $200 and the money will go toward future welding class necessities.

Click here for more information on how to place bids!

Steve Tuhy

Steve Tuhy has transitioned from being an apprentice at the Operating Engineers Local 49 Training Center, to landing a job as an instructor/mechanic at the Training Center to now being their Apprenticeship Coordinator.

However Tuhy grew up on a farm and has been around equipment his entire life, so it was only natural that he decided to pursue a career with heavy equipment.

Tuhy attended Central Lakes College, but after graduation began the Operating Engineers Local 49 Apprenticeship Program in 2005.

“After I graduated that’s when I first found out about the apprenticeship program,” Tuhy said. “But I knew I always wanted to go union.”

Tuhy’s first couple years in the Apprenticeship Program he was hired on part time by the Training Center as an operator/mechanic.

During that time, he was part of the crew that worked on the site prep for the current Operating Engineers Local 49 Training Center building, and in the wintertime he worked in the shop.

“We were pounding the silt fence in for a couple weeks as site prep for the Training Center, and I ran some of the equipment at the site,” Tuhy said.

In 2012, Tuhy was brought on full time to the Training Center as a full time instructor and mechanic.

“My first time instructing a class I had only about three weeks to prep for the class, so it was definitely a new experience for me – at the time – but I really enjoyed it,” he said.

In the summer of 2016, Tuhy was hired on full time by the Local 49 Training Center as an Apprenticeship Coordinator.

As the Apprenticeship Coordinator, Tuhy is responsible for transitioning apprentices throughout the program, and tries to be a mentor to apprentices.

“You’re kind of a mentor to them as far as if they have questions about the industry, problems on the job and then making sure that they’re taking the proper classes,” he said.

Tuhy said that if he could give any advice to high school students who may be unsure if college is for them is to let them know there are other options.

“You don’t have to go to school to get a very rewarding career, and be able to take care of your family at a very livable wage,” Tuhy said. “And you don’t have to have the student debt.”

Tuhy said that when he goes out and visits with high school students another common theme is not everyone is a good fit for a “desk job.”

“Some people are not meant to sit behind a desk or in a classroom, but they are hands on learners,” he said. “The Training Center is great for that because most of the training is hands on.”

The Training Center offers apprentices the opportunity to “earn while you learn” which is a huge factor when students are looking for a career path after high school, or if someone is looking for a career change.

“You’re making money while you’re learning a trade,” he said. “You’re learning a career and that’s the biggest thing I’ve pushed to these new apprentices.”

“This isn’t just a job; it’s a career path,” Tuhy added.

When speaking to new apprentices, Tuhy says in addition to the positives about the Apprenticeship Program, he also talks to them about the reality of the construction industry.

“You have to want this industry,” he said. “They (apprentices) have to understand that you’re going to travel, and it does take a whole family, at times, to be understanding and committed.”

While the industry can be demanding at times, Tuhy stresses to apprentices that it is a positive and rewarding experience beginning as an apprentice, earning while you learn and growing your skills as an operator to further their career.

“I always tell them (apprentices) to never stop learning, and to keep growing their skills,” he said. “You get as much out of this career as you put into it.”

For more information on the Local 49 Apprenticeship Program please visit












Russell Rask

Local 49 member, Russell Rask of Gilbert, MN, has been a part of the Operating Engineers Local 49 Apprenticeship Program for a year, and will shortly begin Phase II of the program.

While an unfortunate event brought Rask to the Training Center, he now says this has been a positive experience.

“I got laid off in the mines up there…I was working at U.S. Steel Minntac, but I had been talking with Dan Snidarich (Local 49 Virginia Business Agent) for a while, and he told me he would help me get into the apprenticeship program,” Rask explained.

Rask said that he had previous experience operating heavy equipment, so that had helped him transition well into the apprenticeship program.

Rask said that he has been everywhere from building mines up on the Iron Range, to operating pile-drivers in Wayzata to now working on the St. Croix Crossing Bridge project for Lunda Construction Co.

While Rask may be a new member of Local 49, he said he’s no stranger to heavy equipment.

“I’ve been around heavy equipment all my life…changing tires and stuff, but I guess this is the first time I’ve been actually running the equipment,” he said.

“It’s actually been quite nice being the one sitting in the driver’s seat instead of the one wrenchin’ on them all the time,” he laughed.

Rask said that the Training he received has been great, and is eager to continue training this winter.

“I’ll go back here in February and start Phase II of the program, hopefully I’ll be able to get as much class time as I can,” Rask said.

Rask said the classes he has signed up for range from small equipment operation to tower crane classes.

He is also looking forward to receive training from a former co-worker, Ryan O’Gary, who has recently been hired as a new instructor at the Local 49 Training Center.

“I’m happy to train with him in Phase II since I previously worked with him at Lunda,” Rask said.

For more information on the Operating Engineers Local 49 Apprenticeship Program please visit



Lisa Klankowski

Lisa Klankowski, a five-year member of Local 49 and current apprentice at the Operating Engineers Local 49 Training Center, has worked her way up from operating small equipment doing dirt work to now operating cranes at the St. Croix River Crossing Bridge project for Lunda Construction Co.

However, prior to her time as a heavy equipment operator, she said her life was much different.

“I was working in a call center and I absolutely despised it,” she said.

That all changed when five years ago she met Rochester business agent Clayton Johnson, and talked to him about some possible career opportunities.

“I told him I hate office jobs and to give me a call if he had any openings,” Klankowski said. “That spring he called me, and I started working for Hoffman Construction down in Plainview (Minnesota).”

Klankowski said once she landed her first job, she then started going up to the Training Center and taking as many classes as she could.

After being on a jobsite for a couple years, she took interest in operating cranes and decided to pursue it.

“At that time I was still doing dirt work, and I didn’t start the cranes until a year or two into the dirt program,” she said.

“I like having a challenge, and with a crane it’s a daily challenge,” she added.

As far as being an apprentice, and being new to operating cranes, Klankowski said it can be intimidating at first.

“You walk in and just think, I don’t know anything,” she said. We do a few weeks of schooling beforehand, but it’s a whole new world on the job site.”

Klankowski said the training she received at the Training Center was “awesome”, and liked that the instructors can work with all skill levels.

“You go up to the Training Center and all of the teachers are so knowledgeable, and they can kind of gauge you in your own skill level,” she said.

“You have people (apprentices) up there that are lower in skill level, and some are up higher, but the instructors are great with adjusting to that,” she added.

In addition to great training, Klankowski said the Training Center also helps apprentices find jobs.

“Then, they get you out to jobs where there is so much going on, and so much opportunity for moving up in the world,” she said.

Klankowski said she isn’t stopping her training as she continues through the apprenticeship program with Local 49 Training Center, and soon will be graduating from the apprenticeship program.

“It’s all about paying attention, and soaking up as much information as you can,” she said.

For more information on the Operating Engineers Local 49 Apprenticeship program please visit