President's Corner

May 2017 Shining Opportunities in the New Year

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Local 150 Officers

James M. Sweeney – President-Business Manager

As President-Business Manager, James M. Sweeney is the chief executive of the union. In addition to administering hundreds of agreements and managing the union’s day-to-day operations, James serves as chairman of the fringe benefit funds.

James joined the union in 1978 and worked for contractors on sewer, slag, paving and deep tunnel projects. He is a second-generation member of Local 150, following in the footsteps of his father, Martin Sweeney, and uncle, John Carroll.

In 1987, James was hired by William Dugan to serve as Local 150’s first full-time organizer. Over the next 20 years, the union’s membership doubled from less than 10,000 to more than 23,000. He pioneered the use of the inflatable rat and led some of Local 150’s most successful industry-wide organizing campaigns, including “Operation Wrench,” a successful campaign to organize the industry’s equipment rental and repair shops.

James has been President-Business Manager since 2008 and steered Local 150 through the recession while maintaining wage and benefit levels and implementing temporary healthcare subsidies and the Local 150 Food Bank to offer assistance to members in need. James led members through industry-wide strikes in Illinois in 2010 and Indiana in 2011 to preserve healthcare benefits.

In 2011, James Sweeney was named to the Board of Directors of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, where he advocates for the efficient modernization of the nation’s most advanced network of toll roads. James also serves as a General Vice President on the International Union of Operating Engineers General Executive Board, and has negotiated nationwide agreements in this position.

James and his wife, Marilyn, live on the south side of Chicago with their three sons – Joseph, Kevin, and James. He is a faithful White Sox fan and coached all three of his sons in baseball and football.

James also serves as President of the IUOE North Central States Conference and as a Vice President of the Chicago Federation of Labor. In addition, James is chairman of various Midwest Operating Engineers benefit funds, including the Health and Welfare, Pension, Apprenticeship, Construction Research and Information Technology Funds.

Kevin C. Burke – Vice President

Kevin C. Burke is Vice President of Local 150, where he oversees landscaping, municipalities and governmental agencies; and is responsible for pre-grievances and building management.  He also serves as a trustee on Local 150’s benefit funds.

Kevin has been a member since 1987, when he began working as an operator for Roy Strom Excavating, where he stayed for 10 years before being brought on staff in 1997. He worked on the Task Force until becoming a business agent, serving members in South Cook County, DuPage County, and downtown Chicago. During his time downtown, Chicago saw one of its greatest periods of growth, with 52 tower cranes up at one point.

In 2014, Kevin was appointed Assistant to the President-Business Manager, and was appointed the the position of Vice President in April 2015.

Kevin’s father, Tom Burke, is a Lifetime Member of Local 150, and two of Kevin’s brothers and two nephews are also members. Kevin and his wife, Elizabeth, live in Willow Springs with their daughters.

Steven Cisco – Recording-Corresponding Secretary

Steven M. Cisco is Recording-Corresponding Secretary of Local 150, an office he has held since 1986. In this office, Steve has been responsible for negotiating thousands of collective bargaining agreements over the last three decades. Steve has also played a central role in the negotiation of first contracts covering public sector units, the heavy equipment dealerships and shops, and the landscape industry.  Steve is also primarily responsible for contract administration.  It is his office that settles the majority of grievances and prosecutes most before the Joint Grievance Committee.

He entered the Midwest Operating Engineers Apprenticeship Program in 1976.  While an apprentice, Steve worked on the Deep Tunnel Project and for various suburban sewer contractors.  After a brief hiatus selling heavy equipment, Steve returned to serve a six-year term as the President of the MOE Credit Union under Business Manager Bill Martin.

In more than 27 years as an officer, Steve has taken pride in his service on the Health and Welfare Fund over the years, playing an instrumental role in the creation of the member assistance program, Retirement Enhancement Fund and Retiree Medical Savings Program. He has been a tireless advocate of the continuing development of the Apprenticeship Program, firm in the belief that members must be highly skilled to command strong wages and benefits.

Steve’s involvement with the Construction Industry Service Corp. (CISCO) and other industry organizations has resulted in strong working relationships with other building trade unions and signatory contractors. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Amalgamated Bank of Chicago.

Steve is the longest serving officer in the history of Local 150, having been elected by the members seven times. He is an avid sports fan, attending as many Bears games and NASCAR and IRL racing events as he can.

David A. Fagan – Financial Secretary

David Fagan is the Financial Secretary of Local 150, responsible for collection of all funds for the union and for maintaining correct financial account of all members. David started working as a Local 150 Operating Engineer in 1978, and worked in building construction, mass excavation, and the slag industry in northwest Indiana. David is a second-generation member. David’s father is a Lifetime Member who worked as a heavy equipment mechanic.

David came onto the union’s staff in 1989, when William Dugan appointed him to work as an organizer.  David was a very successful organizer, and his campaigns have included such as mass excavation, construction mechanic shops, asphalt plants, heavy equipment dealerships, heavy equipment rental and repair shops, railroad wrecking and construction companies, quarries, landfills, and various steel mill service providers.

In 2005, the officers of Local 150 unanimously elected David to serve as Financial Secretary. In this role, David has worked diligently to prevent the erosion of the wages and benefits the Union has worked so hard to establish.

David has been active in Indiana politics. As the Chairman of the Indiana Lunch Pail Republicans, he has been a leading labor voice in opposition to Indiana’s “right to work” law. He currently holds a seat on the Ports of Indiana Commission. He also served two terms on the Portage City Council, and has held an appointed seat on the Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board since 1992. In this capacity, Dave works to ensure that Indiana police officers understand and respect the rights of labor.

David and his wife are active in their community and have been foster parents for many years. They live in Portage with their son, Ryan.

Marshall E. Douglas II – Treasurer

Marshall E. Douglas has been a member of Local 150 of the Operating Engineers since 1993. A graduate of the Midwest Operating Engineers Apprenticeship Program, Marshall represents the new breed of Operating Engineers who cut his teeth at the craft at the Local 150 Apprenticeship Skill Improvement Program Training Site. Marshall earned most of his work experience in excavation and other dirt work including operation of scrapers, finish dozers, and loaders of all kinds. Marshall gained crane and overhead experience working at the ALCOA Plant in Bettendorf, Iowa, and at the construction of the IPSCO Steel Mill in Montpelier, Iowa.

In 1997, Marshall began working as a Task Force Organizer for Local 150. For the next year, he worked in Districts 1, 2, 3, and 7 on campaigns to organize the heavy equipment and rental and repair shops in the Union’s Operation Wrench Campaign, and in the campaign to organize small pavers. As Marshall remembers, it was hard to be away from home for all that time, especially after he got married in 1997. But the experience organizing was tremendous, and learning from people like Jim Sweeney, Bob Paddock, and Dave Fagan was invaluable.

Marshall’s experience in organizing proved most important, however, when he returned to District 8 in 1998. For the next several years, Marshall did double duty as an organizer and business agent policing the Illinois side of the Mississippi River and organizing the unorganized. Throughout that time, Marshall headed campaigns where Local 150 successfully organized RSC, Martin Equipment, Road Machinery and Supply, and Heckett MultiServ.

Marshall Douglas has gained valuable contract-negotiation experience, both in the first contracts with companies he organized as well as doing master Agreements for both Heavy Highway and Building and municipal contract negotiations.