Local 793 has grown considerably over the years and the officers have big plans for the future.

That was one of the messages delivered by business manager Mike Gallagher at a general membership meeting of the union in Oakville on Sept. 25.

“This is your union,” he said in remarks to more than 120 members at the meeting. “Our only desire is to keep building it.”

Today, he noted, there are more than 14,500 active and retired members, the pension plan has grown to more than $2.3 billion, the benefit plan is doing extremely well, and the union now has close to 160 staff working in offices across the province.

“We’re growing and building the local in a healthy way.”

Gallagher said members’ equity was $87.7 million as of June 30, 10.4 per cent higher than the previous year, and consolidated assets of the union were $95 million.

With lots of construction projects planned and on the go, he said the work picture looks bright for members.

He noted that more work is expected in the nuclear sector with refurbishment of reactors at Darlington starting up and similar work at Bruce Power planned for the future.

Gallagher said he hopes that work will also pick up soon for Operating Engineers at the Gordie Howe International Bridge over the Detroit River at Windsor.

On the training front, he said, the OETIO received $1.5 million from the federal government last December under the Flexibility and Innovation in Apprenticeship Technical Training Program and an additional $1.38 million under the Apprenticeship Enhancement Fund from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and University to buy five pieces of heavy equipment and a tower crane.

The union purchased a new Liebherr 85 EC-B5 tower crane for the Oakville campus which has bottom and top climbing capabilities, he said.

Going forward, Gallagher said the plan is to hire four more organizers in each of the next three years to keep the union growing.

He said Local 793 has a good crew of organizers who have been working hard and are achieving results, bringing in some good companies.

To do the job, he said, union organizers have to have courage and be a true believer in the cause.

As for future plans, Gallagher said that he hopes to double the size of the OE Banquet Hall in Oakville and has been talking to Michael Spaziani, the architect who designed the head office.

Meanwhile, he said he also wants to build a residence of at least 40 rooms for students who come for training at the OETIO in Oakville.