MINNEAPOLIS -- A collection of unions, businesses, organizations and government units came together last month to create a more positive dialogue on energy industry projects.

In a press release from the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49, the "Respect Minnesota" effort was described as a pledge to create common ground and to respect the right of freedom of speech as well as personal safety. The release states Local 49 members have discussed wanting to reset the tone on major energy projects across Minnesota over the last several months.

"Safety is the top priority for our members in every circumstance," Local 49 Business Manager Jason George said in the release. "We know people are very passionate about Line 3 and other energy projects that are moving forward. We want to set a respectful tone for the communities where we work."

So far, more than 2,500 individuals have signed the Respect Minnesota pledge.

The pledge involves the following commitments:

  • I support free speech and a safe environment for everyone.
  • I will listen, be inclusive and look for common ground.
  • I will respect others, our natural environment, and local communities.
  • I will respect the cultural heritage and history of indigenous people.
  • I will be accountable for my words and actions and abide by the law.
  • Let’s move forward together.

"The pledge is at the core of Respect Minnesota," said Jason LaValley, president and CEO of Bemidji-based LaValley Industries, in the release. "We look forward to having our employees take the pledge. This is about coming together, reflecting on our values and respecting our fellow Minnesotans."

Along with LaValley Industries, others joining Respect Minnesota are the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the city of Clearbrook and Red Lake County.