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