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