New leadership takes charge at Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council
Adapted from the Minneapolis Labor Review, June 21, 2021
SAINT PAUL — The Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council announced May 28 that president Harry Melander was retiring, effective June 4, and that the council’s executive board had unanimously elected a new president, Joe Fowler, business manager of Laborers Local 563.
“Harry has dedicated his career to the labor movement and to the union construction professionals of Minnesota,” said Craig Olson, secretary treasurer of the Building Trades. “His passion has been growing the union construction workforce, supporting diversity and inclusion in our industry, and tirelessly advocating for affordable housing and increased private and public investment in construction and infrastructure.”
“I am honored and incredibly humbled to have received the level of support that I did to be elected president of the Minnesota State Building Trades Council,” said Joe Fowler. “As president of the State Building Trades, I’m looking forward to supporting the good work that the Trade unions do advocating for the both the necessary investments into Minnesota’s infrastructure as well as investments into the working-class citizens of the state who help to keep the economy moving. With the combined efforts of the affiliated trades, it is my hope that this organization will continue to be able to expand work opportunities for our members that: support a middle class living; provide quality family healthcare and include pensions that allow union members to retire with dignity; and protect the health and safety of construction workers throughout all of Minnesota.”
Fowler will serve out the remainder of Melander’s term, which expires next month, but Fowler told the Labor Review he will be running for a full four-year term at the council’s July 2021 convention.
[8/1/21 UPDATE: At the council’s July 2021 convention, Fowler was elected to a full four-year term.]
Fowler has served as the business manager for Laborers Local 563 since 2017. Prior to that, he served as a business agent for Local 563 beginning in 2013. Fowler is a second generation Local 563 laborer and started his union construction career in 1999.
Fowler will remain as Local 563’s business manager while serving as the State Building Trades Council president. Under a new structure, he noted, the Council’s executive board wanted to see a current business manager in the position.
At Local 563, “I’ve got some pride in the team I’ve built,” Fowler said, including elected officers and appointed business agents. “I have a pretty diverse group.”
Moving in to the role of president of the State Building Trades Council, Fowler said, “our priorities are working class priorities and they shouldn’t become partisan.”
New executive director named
Also in May, the Council announced a new executive director, Tom Dicklich, effective June 1.
He replaces Jessica Looman, who left in January to accept a position with the Biden Administration.
Dicklich, most recently the city administrator of Hibbing, previously served as legislative director for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and prior to that in the office of the majority leader in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
The Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council represents 70,000 skilled union construction professionals working in 15 trades.
Carpenter Harry Melander retires as MN Building Trades president
(Minneapolis Labor Review, June 26, 2021)