Laurie Johnson didn’t plan to become a Boy Scout leader. Randomly, a stranger at a church she visited asked her to get involved because the troop—just five boys—was on the verge of elimination.
“It was just a fluke,” Johnson said. “A stranger came and asked me to be a leader for their boy scout troop because it was about to die. I went and I ended up thinking the world of the kids and going to the next meeting and going on their next camp out. I’ve been going ever since.”
That was in 1990. Today, Laurie is preparing for her second World Scout Jamboree taking place next summer in West Virginia. Her role—head of maintenance at a base camp housing around 10,000 Scouts and leaders for 10 days—will draw on the skills she’s developed over the last 30 years as a construction worker with Laborers Local 563.
“I’ll end up using some of the skills I have with construction. Whatever comes up, you don’t know exactly what your assignment is,” Johnson said, mirroring the variety of her construction role in the union.
As a laborer with Morcon Construction Company, Laurie has worked on a wide array of projects, from the Twins Stadium that opened in 2010, to renovations at the Minneapolis - Saint. Paul International Airport, to elementary schools, hospital emergency rooms, and everything in between.
“I like construction and being a laborer because of the variety. There’s so many different things I can do. Demolition is fun. I like concrete work a lot. I like pouring concrete and puddling, doing all the different aspects of that,” Johnson said. “I like the fact that I’ve worked on so many different jobs and I can see projects that I’ve worked on. And when you build something, it’s neat because you can go past the building later and say ‘I built that.’”
The union, Laurie said, has given her the opportunity to work on gratifying projects with great people, oftentimes outdoors and away from the confines of an office job. It also allows her the time and financial means to pursue her passions outside of work, like the Scouts.
“It’s a good paying job so I’m able to afford to do things that I want to do, like Scouting because you volunteer to Scout but you pay your own way,” Johnson said. “There’s flexibility with the work where usually you can tell them ahead of time, ‘I’ve got this coming up,’ and most companies are pretty decent about supporting that, too.”
But with the midterm elections just around the corner, Laurie is concerned about many important issues. Top-of-mind for Johnson are so called “Right to Work” laws and keeping our union strong, in addition to problems like climate change, affordable healthcare, and simply—having smart, wise officials in office who will make the right decisions.
“I’m supporting Tim Walz for governor on November 6. I think he can do a good job. He supports our unions and he’ll focus on keeping people working, keeping our union strong.” Johnson said.