Our History

Organization of Local Union 132


In October 1929, a small group of equipment operators made an unsuccessful attempt to organize and form a local union under the charter of the International Union of Operating Engineers. The Depression and high unemployment rates made organizing impossible.

Organization of Local Union 132

On May 1, 1935, ten men organized and filed for a charter under the banner of the International Union of Operating Engineers.  This was the formation of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 132, Charleston, West Virginia.  By the end of the year, there were 34 members.


By the turn of the decade, 1940, I.U.O.E. Local 132 had approximately 257 members. By the mid 40’s, Local 132 had roving offices in Charleston, Point Pleasant, Parkersburg, New Haven, Wheeling, Hinton and Elkins, West Virginia.  The Local utilized paid stewards in the rural areas to monitor work.

Major projects included:

  • Elkins Flood Control Dam
  • Kanawha Airport
  • Bluestone Dam
  • Ohio River Bridges


Entering the 1950’s, Local 132 was in stable growth.  At this time, Local 132 had offices in Wheeling and St. Albans. An office in Clarksburg was opened in mid-1954.  The Charleston office, was located at 115 Court Street.

Major projects included:

  • DuPont Plant, Keyser
  • Sutton Dam
  • Pipeline
  • Steel mills in the Northern Panhandle
  • Phillip Sporn Power Plant, Glasgow
  • West Virginia Turnpike
  • Green Bank Observatory


As the 1950’s ended and the 1960’s began Local 132 had a change in leadership, which would have a lasting impression on the Local. Joseph L. Handley was installed as Business Manager, to begin a reign of 31 years at the helm of Local 132.  This was for the purpose to provide a health and welfare program.  The Health & Welfare and the Pension Fund was incorporated in following collective bargaining agreements in the early 1960’s.

A need for worker representation was becoming more prevalent with the increase of activity of equipment service shops, industrial service companies, aggregate and sand companies, and other specialty companies involved in the construction industry.  Local 132 was granted a C-Branch charter from the International Union of Operating Engineers on November 1, 1960.  The workers of companies such as: Vecellio  & Grogan Equipment Shop, Walker Machinery, Beckwith Service, Rish Equipment, and the International Mill Service signed with Local 132C. At the beginning of 1963, the Bureau of Public Roads announced that the Interstate Highway System was about one third complete.

Major projects included:

  • Interstates 77 and 64
  • Major upgrades to U.S. Route 50
  • Fort Martin Power Plant
  • General Motors Plant
  • Mount Storm Power Plant
  • Summersville Dam
  • John Amos Power Plant
  • Various bank buildings
  • Charleston House Holiday Inn
  • Racine Locks and Dam
  • Obekiski
  • Hannibal Locks and Dams
  • DuPont Plant at Belle and
  • Naval Radar Station at Sugar Grove


The 1970’s brought on a rapid growth of members to Local 132.  The Interstate system was in full construction and increased demand for electricity, major power generating plants were being built at numerous sites in West Virginia.  The need for skilled operators in West Virginia was at an all-time high.  On the down side, a wage-price freeze was announced by President Richard Nixon in February 1971, a program that was to last until November 1971.  Operating Engineers made it clear that they would participate in the wage-price freeze program, even though it voided legal employee-employer contracts made in good faith.  In the process I.U.O.E. Local 132 lost wages and benefits.

In 1965, Local 132 started it’s Apprenticeship Program, but it was not until 1971 that a fully committed apprenticeship program and training facility was opened with Charles W. “Chuck” McKay at the helm.

Business Manager Handley established his leadership of Local 132 with the International and was selected to serve as an International Trustee.  At the end of the 1970’s, Local 132 had 3,529 members.

Major projects included:

  • New Haven 1301, Pleasants
  • Harrison 3rd unit Mount Storm
  • Mitchell Plant
  • New River Gorge Bridge
  • Burnsville Dam
  • D. Bailey Dam
  • Raleigh County Airport updates
  • I-77, I-64, I-79, U.S. Route 50
  • Point Pleasant and St. Mary’s Bridges


Entering the decade of the 1980s and Reaganomics, Local 132 faced one of their toughest challenges in its existence.  The construction industry in West Virginia had fallen on extreme hard times.  Fierce competition between non-union and union contractors on a smaller market share prevailed into a hard money situation. Before this most major projects were cost plus.  The union contractors struggled to adjust to the changing industry.  Many simply could not and fell by the way. The incorporation of project labor agreements and modifications to the local agreements slowly enabled Local 132 to be competitive in a bottom dollar industry.

During this decade the leadership of Local 132 was with Business Manager Joseph Handley, who had moved up to Sixth Vice-President of the International Union of Operating Engineers.  Alan B. Tarpley defeated Joseph Handley for Business Manager in August of 1989 to end his 31 years of control of Local 132.

Major projects included:

  • Town Center Mall
  • Morgantown Mall
  • Pipelines in Logan and Beckley
  • Precipitator added to Mount Storm
  • Memorial Tunnel Bypass
  • East End Bridge
  • Weirton Suspension Bridge
  • Route 97 in Wyoming County
  • Mabscott Interchange in Raleigh County
  • I-64 Completion


The United States entered the 1990s, the last decade of the twentieth century, with increased concerns of environmental issues.  The implementation of Acts and Standards such as The Clean Air Bill, created a large amount of work in the electrical utilities.  Business Manager Tarpley recognized the need for changes to regain strength in the construction industry.  Local 132 utilized project labor agreements and modifications to local agreements to capture this work.

The Annuity Fund was added to the Health & Welfare and Pension Benefit package in June 1993.  The Local 132 Pension Fund grew at a rapid rate from increased contributions and bullish returns in this decade.

Major projects included:

  • FBI National Fingerprint Center
  • Olive Penitentiary, Grant Town
  • Morgantown and North Branch Co-Generation Plants
  • S2O Scrubbers, Harrison Power Plant
  • Belleville Hydro Electric
  • Southern Regional Jail
  • Winfield Locks-Dam
  • Matewan and Williamson Flood Walls
  • Major upgrades to U.S. Route 19


There were 2,718 members in Local 132 entering the year 2000.

The first decade of the 21st Century provided numerous job opportunities for our Local. Under the skillful leadership of Business Manager Ronald L. Burdette, the Local regained lost market share in the highway sector. In 2001 Business Manager Burdette hired two full-time organizers to combat the non-union element in our state.

In 2007 Local 132 President, Assistant Business Manager and Apprenticeship & Training Director, David Mullins, resigned to accept appointment as West Virginia Commissioner of Labor. Tommy Plymale assumed the position of Assistant Business Manager and Charles Parker became Apprenticeship & Training Director. Tom Halfin would serve as President until his death in 2008, when Mike O’Hare became president.

In 2010 Tommy Plymale was elected Business manager and Rodney served as Assist Business Manager, Bill Lemley was elected President. In 2013 Rodney Marsh became President.

Major projects included:

  • Wind farm construction in Tucker, Grant, Randolph and Greenbrier counties
  • Casino at Mountaineer Gaming in Chester
  • Cabelas — Highlands near Wheeling
  • Route 2 widening in Brooke and Marshall counties
  • installation of scrubbers and SCR’s at Mt. Storm
  • upgrades to Mitchell and Pleasants Power Plants
  • Corridor H in Grant and Hardy counties
  • Upgrades to Route 9 in Berkeley and Jefferson counties
  • The C-5 Runway Extension Project in Martinsburg
  • King Coal Highway in Mercer County
  • Marmet Locks
  • Yeager Airport Runway and Taxiway Safety Improvements
  • Coalfields Expressway in Raleigh County
  • upgrades to Route 10 in Logan County
  • Summersville Hydro Project
  • National Guard Armory in Summersville
  • Site work for National Guard Armory in Glen Jean
  • site work for the Federal Prison in McDowell County
  • Continued upgrades to the Bluestone and Connersville Dams
  • CertainTeed Gypsum Plant in Marshall County
  • Two-billion dollar Longview Power Plant at Maidsville


2015 began the contemporary era at Local 132 as Charles Parker took over as Business Manager after the passing of Tommy Plymale.  Neil Huffman became President upon Rodney Marsh’s retirement. Allen Nelson became the Apprenticeship & Training Director.

The early 2010’s saw growth in the energy sector.  In 2018 pipeline work was at an all-time high, with construction beginning on the Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley, and Mountaineer Express projects.

The Apprenticeship and Training School continues to provide world class training.  Director Allen Nelson continues to improve member opportunities by expanding and lengthening the winter class schedule to capitalize on the new facilities and equipment. New equipment has been purchased to keep members skills competitive in an ever-changing market; including a new Cat excavator and lift technology vacuum lifter and a Cat M12 grader, both are equipped with the latest Trimble GPS technology.

Major projects included:

  • Sherwood and Majorsville Compressor Stations
  • Mark West Mobley Processing Facility, Williams Energy/Caim Gas Facility
  • Pipelines: the Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley, and Mountaineer Express
  • Mitchell Power House new stack
  • Bluestone Dam work continues
  • Windmills continued – Beech Ridge Project 2
  • Coalfield Expressway
  • Ronceverte Sewer Plant
  • WV Turnpike – widening project
  • New River Gorge Bridge updates