Local 793 is on the right track, business manager Mike Gallagher told a special executive board meeting at head office in Oakville on Sept. 22.

With solid financials, a healthy pension plan and plenty of work on the horizon, the “state of the union is good,” he said.

Although 2011 was a difficult year for investments due to low interest rates, contributions to the pension plan remained solid, he noted.

On the employment front, he said there also appears to be plenty of work on tap for Operating Engineers for the next year.

Gallagher told delegates that Local 793 is one of the fastest growing locals in North America and, with $30 billion in projects slated for Ontario in 2012, the biggest challenge will be supplying enough operators for the projects.

Presently, he said, the union’s dispatch department is barely able to keep up with demand for crane operators.

“We’re running flat out.”

Gallagher addressed a number of issues during a half-hour speech to delegates.

He complimented president Joe Redshaw and the social services department for winning a $340,000 decision at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) for a 69-year-old member who was injured 10 years ago.

The member struck his head on the glass of a tractor-loader-backhoe while working on a project in Toronto.

The union persevered on behalf of the member and won his case.

Gallagher said the local has an “enviable” record of winning appeals at the WSIB and a 90-per-cent success rate of winning CPP appeals for members.

“We’ve definitely looked after our own,” he said. “Like the marines, it’s no man left behind.”

Gallagher noted that Local 793’s banquet hall is also doing well and the union is looking at doubling the size of the present building so it could accommodate 1,000 people.

The local is talking to Michael Spaziani, the architect who designed head office and the present banquet hall, he said.

Gallagher said the banquet hall is making money and expanding the facility would enable much larger events to be held there.

With the possible banquet hall expansion, the local is also looking into the possibility of expanding the head office to accommodate more staff, he said.

Meanwhile, Gallagher said, the union is looking at setting up a memorial to honour Operating Engineers who’ve lost their lives on the job.

The memorial would be in a forested area on the head office property.

At the OETIO in Morrisburg, the union is looking into the possibility of establishing a retirement home on the property.

The union is also looking at the possibility of putting in wind turbines or solar panels at the OETIO.