October ’21 Labor-Citizen

Brothers and Sisters:

The Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund (EIWPF) has developed a website, elevatorinfo.org, to inform non-signatory elevator technicians, company owners and customers that are not happy with non-signatory contractors about the benefits of union employment and services.  Work Preservation is a cooperative effort of the International and signatory companies to promote work place safety and support the efforts of the International organizers.

On the home page of this site is a link to the alphabetical list of Local 17 signatory companies.  If you notice a company not listed working in the area, please call Business Manager John Driscoll, Jr at 431-8088 or email him at JEDriscoll@iueclocal17.org.  

Remember to report all job changes and jobs lasting three days or longer to the hall.    Also, if you have had a life change such as a marriage, divorce, birth or death, be sure to call the hall with the information.

Several Brothers have been out of work due to Covid exposure and three have been hospitalized because of infection.  As companies and customers have been rolling out vaccination requirements for employees and contractors, it is increasingly important to be aware of and in compliance with those requirements.  With that in mind, masks and hand sanitizer have become default additions to the standard issue personal protection equipment (PPE).  Please keep an adequate supply available for you and your co-workers.

Congratulations to Brother Jason Tischler on passing the Mechanics Exam.  As if this writing there are three additional apprentices waiting to take the exam.  Remember that this is the only unbiased evaluation of your knowledge as an elevator mechanic you will ever have in your career.  

The November 12 and December 10, 2021 and January 14, 2022 are mandatory special called meetings for the nomination, election and installation of officers.  Those not in attendance are subject to fines in accordance with the Local By-Laws.

The Brothers and Sisters of Local 17 send their condolences to the families of retired Brother John Sopochak who passed away in September and retired Brother Dave Zepeda whose wife passed away in July.

As of this writing there is one mechanic on the bench.

October ’21 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and Sisters:

In the August issue of the Elevator Constructor, NEIEP Director John O’Donnell  wrote about the brand new national training center NEIEP opened in Warwick, Rhode Island across from TF Green International  Airport. The dedicated facility for training instructors has been a long project for NEIEP and the COVID-19 pandemic gave them additional time to be sure they had everything right.

In many ways NEIEP and Local 17 were on parallel courses.  In May 2020, the Joint Apprenticeship Committee was informed that the building it was renting on Superior Avenue in downtown Cleveland was sold and it would have to find a new home for the school.  While that may have been bad news in some Locals, that was not necessarily the view in Cleveland.  The space was in a part of town that is transitioning from a commercial/residential neighborhood to an attempt at gentrification.  There were ongoing issues with after hours safety of persons and property and the space was also not conducive to the growing educational needs of the Local.  

After searching the downtown Cleveland area, Business Manager John Driscoll Jr, with the help of a local real estate agent,  found a building previously used as a credit union across from the Ford Engine Plant near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in Brookpark, a southern suburb of Cleveland.

Once the lease was signed on the Engle Road facility, it took several months of work to refurbish the former credit union building into the training center.  “We are very excited to be in the building” Driscoll said.

“This building is a major upgrade from our Superior location” said NEIEP Area Coordinator Wally Wuelling.  “Everyone is happy we are back in the classroom.”

On August 9th, IUEC Local 17 opened its new training center with an apprentice orientation.  This was the first event in the building because the Covid-19 outbreak kept instruction online for all of last year.  

The center, which is four times larger can the previous classroom space on Superior Avenue, features a two classrooms upstairs, two downstairs, two restrooms and multiple storage options for labs and materials.

Photos from the day and the facility can be seen on the IUEC Local 17 website, iueclocal17.org.

As you receive this issue, the International will be holding their convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Conventions are not big parties just thrown together at the last minute for the purpose of socialization.  Conventions are where the direction of the International for the next five years is debated, argued and wrestled over point by point.  It is where the priorities for the upcoming contract negotiations are hammered out.   

If history is any indication, the priorities coming out this gathering will help prepare the union as a whole for any eventuality, good or bad, foreseen or unforeseen, which may arise.  On behalf of the Brothers, Sisters, officers and delegates of IUEC Local 17, congratulations on a successful convention and upcoming contract negotiations.

Until next month…

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.



September ’21 Labor-Citizen

Brothers and Sisters:

As the International revs up its preparations for the 32nd Convention being held in Las Vegas, Nevada at the end of the month, I want to share something I wrote on behalf of IUEC Local 17.

In March of this year, the Local voted to buy two advertisements in the convention book: one a congratulatory ad and the other a two-page spread of photos along with a short history of the Local. As your correspondent, I was tasked with preparing both of these pieces for the book. After going through my own personal archive spanning my time as correspondent to the journal and the photo albums prepared by former correspondent Eddie Ference and others, I selected 108 possible images for inclusion.

Some images, such as those of Brothers that left us far too soon, were of paramount importance for inclusion. Others represented touchstone points in our history which, when looked at individually, transcend time and speak to not only our past but, our present and future.

On September 26 the advertisements as well as the photos I selected for inclusion will be posted on the Local’s website, iueclocal17.org, for all to view. The text below is the history of the Local I wrote for the two-page spread.

Don Knapik

A Very Short Overview of Local 17 for the 32nd IUEC Convention

IUEC Local 17 was chartered November 5, 1903 with the objectives of “encouraging a high standard of skill among its members, cultivating a feeling of of friendship among the craft, obtaining and maintaining a fair wage, assisting each other in securing employment, protecting our jurisdiction and engaging in activities which further our interests.”

Local 17’s territory covers Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Erie, Geauga, Lake and Lorain counties and the Local’s members are routinely found working in other jurisdictions. This is especially true as most of the Local’s signatory companies have regional or area operations which overlap other jurisdictions, especially Akron (Local 45).

The close relationship between Cleveland and Akron was highlighted by the three-year long organizing campaign for Gable Elevator of Twinsburg. Since Gable was headquartered in Akron’s territory but, also worked in Cleveland this created a special need for cooperation between the Locals. The Cleveland Volunteer Organizing Committee (VOC) took the lead in the effort and with the aid of Organizer Jim Lowery, the cooperation of Business Managers Tim Moennich of Cleveland and Dave Morrow of Akron, Gable became a signatory three years to the month from the first hand billing. After the campaign, the program pioneered by Local 17 was submitted to the International and now forms the basis for VOCs and organizing efforts across the union.

Local 17 has also made a special effort along with the International in recognizing the importance of mental health awareness and suicide prevention among its members and their families. The International has highlighted the need for awareness in the 2019 and 2020 October issues of the Elevator Constructor where services for those in crisis and their families are discussed in an open forum. The Local also financially supports several local charities, chief among them the Holy Family Cancer Home in Parma.

As with any human endeavor, there is a desire for togetherness and the Local holds several gatherings and dinners every year. The retirees are honored early on at the Retiree’s Dinner, followed by a golf outing, participation in the Cleveland trades softball tournament and the annual Children’s Christmas Party.

Throughout the years, Local 17 has strove to live up to the challenge laid down in its charter. With each succeeding generation of constructors building upon the foundation of those who came before, our predecessors efforts are never in vane. We as a Local and an International only have the view to see farther because we stand on the shoulders of these giants.

This is Cleveland. This is Local 17.

September ’21 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and Sisters:

Over the last several months, my YouTube feed has been suggesting job-oriented videos. The themes range from how to identify a toxic work environment, bad bosses, five signs you should quit your job right now, negotiating a salary… Hmmm.

Is the cosmos trying to tell me something?

After clicking on several of these videos a common theme seemed to emerge that is appropriate for the trades — career planning.

Career planning is not something limited to the corporate world, it has a direct application to what we in the field do everyday. We all started in this trade as probationaries with a skill set brought from our previous work experience. As we progressed in the trade, we identified areas where our skills directly applied and we could be an asset to our job and also identified areas we needed assistance.

For me, I was stronger in mechanical systems where I could see the interactions of parts and the result of their work. I also knew enough about electricity to know that I did not know enough. I knew this was an area I would need to concentrate on if I was going to be successful in this business.

I tackled Basic Electricity and finally understood exactly what was going on in AC and DC motors, came to grips with inductance and capacitance, tried to stay awake through transformers and reveled in circuit tracing. I developed skills I applied to my daily work experience. Work was easier and fun.

Along the way I had opportunities to interact with guys from other companies and saw through their stories how different offices worked, or didn’t. I also saw several of my peers take the plunge into management or jobs with different aspects of field support. For someone focusing on the day-to-day tasks at hand, it was very expansive. I knew enough about myself to know that being a superintendent was not for me but, there might be other jobs I could do that would make a difference.

In November of 2006 I was going to my truck to get my phone prior to a union meeting when Mike Moennich asked if I would be interested in running for the correspondent to the Journal. Mike knew from our time working together I had a background in journalism. I agreed and was elected at the December meeting. That put my feet on the path I am today.

As a newly elected officer, it did not take long for me to realize that union meetings are a conversation and in order to understand what was going on it took many months to see how the conversation progressed. I did my best to keep the Journal readers up to date on happenings and eventually found my voice within the Local.

In 2010 the sixth issue of Lift Magazine showed up in my mailbox. I read through the issue and the back issues I had saved and thought it was interesting. They contained a lot of good information and background on a variety of subject written by people who spent at least part of their careers working in the field. On one of the pages was a box asking those interested in writing for Lift to email NEIEP and I did. A few months later I received an email and it opened up a new opportunity to apply my editorial skills to a project where I could make a positive impact on the trade. That lead to becoming an instructor and meeting some of the best people from around the country. All of them dedicated to making the trade a little bit better.

It’s strange how life puts you where you are supposed to be. I never thought that initial short conversation in the parking lot would lead me to where I am today. I don’t know where the rest of my time in the trade will take me but I just have two things to say: thank you Mike Moennich and enjoy your retirement. You’ve earned it.

Until next month,
Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.


August ’21 Labor-Citizen

Brothers and Sisters:

The Fall Semester starts August 9th with a general apprentice meeting at our new school building located at 5145 Engle Road in Brookpark. NEIEP Area Coordinator Wally Woulding will be attending to give an overview of the year to the apprentices. Brothers Jerry Reitz will be teaching RC100 on Monday and Tim Narowitz has a class in RC300 on Wednesday.

There are currently 19 apprentices in the NEIEP program and four apprentices Mechanics Exam eligible. Rick Meyers is willing to teach a review class which may start as early as August 16th. Watch your email for updates.

Local 17 currently has 11 probationary apprentices working on their new-hire modules. They should be ready to start the program in the spring.

Schindler Elevator continues to hold the lions share of the work in Cleveland. As a result they have hired ten probationaries and Otis has picked up two in the last month. Gable, Kone and Thyssen are all indicating they may need help in the coming months.

As of right now, the Local 17 list looks like it will open at some point after the first of the year. Watch this space and the Local’s website, iueclocal17.org for more information.

Do not forget to call the Business Manager John Driscoll Jr whenever you will be on a job lasting more than two days. He can be reached at 216-431-8088 or you can come to the hall located at 3250 Euclid Ave.

If you have had any changes changes in your immediate family situation (marriage, divorce, birth, death) or need to update your Local Death and Dismemberment policy beneficiary, please notify John so the proper insurance coverages can be maintained.

The Brothers and Sisters of Local 17 send their condolences to the family of retired Brother Tom Gibbons and his son active member Tim on the passing of their mother and grandmother June 30.

As of this writing there is one mechanic on the bench.

Softball Team Call Out

The 39th Annual Cleveland Building Trades Softball Tournament will be held starting Thursday, September 2, 2021.

IUEC Local 17 would like to enter if there are enough players to field a team.

Probationary apprentices are more than welcome to play, so pass the word around because they may not be on our email list.  

Contact Business Manager John Driscoll Jr at JEDriscoll@iueclocal17.org or call the hall at 216-431-8088 if you are interested in playing as the entry deadline is getting close.