May ’11 Cleveland Citizen Article

I hope everyone had a happy May Day!  There’s a lot to talk about so let’s get going….

There are plans for another OSHA 10 and scaffolding class.  If you are interested, please contact Business Agent Tim Moennich for class dates and times.

NEIEP is looking for contributors to Lift Magazine, its educational supplement available to all members.  The upcoming issue covers new elevator technology.  You do not need to be a professional quality writer to contribute, just the desire to share your knowledge with others.  If you are interested in becoming part of the team of compensated Lift contributors, send your resume to Jon Henson at jhenson@neiep.org or call 508-699-2200 extension 6115.

The Project Labor Agreements for the casino have been completed.  While all the details are not in at this time, it looks very good that the project will be moving forward shortly.

There is currently an action with Marshall Samuels Accessibility and their split shop arrangement where one of their operations is union and their other location is a non-union shop.  MSA is a home accessibility company selling stair and wheel chair lifts, dumbwaiters and residential elevators.   If they become a signatory, then Local 17 will be picking up a couple of new members and a strong presence in a market the International is eager to penetrate.  This will also offer another company to employ Local 17 members.

At the April meeting, the membership voted to go ahead and purchase the URL iueclocal17.org and develop a website.  I am happy to report that the development has been moving briskly ahead and we should be live very soon.  The purpose of the site is to keep the members, retirees and their families informed on what is going on between meetings.  There is space for photo galleries of events like the Retiree’s Dinner held last April 15th, updates on JATC news, announcements and links to the International, union and local signatory company websites.  The hope is that it will be a go to resource for news and information as the convention is held in the late summer and the contract is up next year.

If anyone has content, announcements, births, weddings, deaths, pictures, or anything they would like to share with the rest of the local, please click on the web administrator link on the Contacts page and I will post it as soon as possible.

The local sends its most sincere condolences to the families of Brother Ryan Faber who passed away on March 31st and retired Brother James Horvath who passed away on March 25th.

As of this writing there are 25 mechanics and two apprentices out of work.

Battle Fatigue

As I write these words in late April 2011, a group called We Are Ohio, labor unions from across the state and the Ohio Democratic Party are collecting signatures to repeal the union-busting Senate Bill 5 signed into law less than a month ago by Republican Governor John Kasich.  Their goal is to get over 230,000 signatures from all over the state to put a repeal of SB5 on the November ballot.

The governor has proven to be a wiley character and as hard to pin down as an eel on his support for the bill.  He talked about “giving local government the tools they need to make (financial) decisions” which on the surface we can all agree that that is not a bad thing.  When we work in our trade we occasionally use several special tools, except the ones he was talking about turned out to be a chainsaw to public-employees right to bargain and hamstringing pubic-sector unions by legislating what they could not get by negotiating.

There is a sound political theory behind what he is doing.  I call it the “Friedman Generalization and Corollary.”  Milton Friedman was a Nobel Prize winner in Economics and advisor to Ronald Reagan during his campaign and after the election on the Economic Policy Advisory Board.  In 1982 he and his wife Rose wrote a book titled Tyranny of the Status Quo.  In that book he did a study of current economic situations around the world and how they interconnected.  Early in the book he told a story about the election of a Premier in British Columbia and what he did not promise during the election and why.

Very briefly, here is the text from Friedman’s book:

“Any measure that affects a concentrated group—either favorably or unfavorably—tends to have effects on individual members of that group that are substantial, occur promptly, and are highly visible.  The effects of the same measure on the individual members of a diffuse group—again whether favorable or unfavorable—tend to be trivial, longer delayed and less visible.  Quick, concentrated reaction is the major source of the strength of special interest groups in a democracy – or for that matter any other kind of government.  It motivates politicians to make grandiose promises to such special interests before an election – and to postpone any measures adversely affecting special interest groups until after an election.”

“Had Premier Bennett spelled out his intention to cut personnel and funds before the election, he would have aroused immediate and vocal opposition from the special interest groups affected—and only lukewarm and far less vocal enthusiasm from the taxpayers in general.  By waiting until after the election to spell out his program, Premier Bennett could hope that the bad effects on the concentrated groups would dissipate before the next election while the good effects on a broad constituency would have time both to take effect and to be recognized as the result of the measure he took.”

This is the playbook Governor Kasich and his advisors are using to hijack Ohio and turn labor back a hundred years.

They executed the Generalization flawlessly; withholding their plans until after the election and then publicly springing the effort to cut public-sector bargaining rights only after the election.  This kept public unions from effectively organizing against them and for former Governor Strickland.  Now they are in a waiting mode until 230,000 signatures can be obtained to put the repeal on the ballot.

Over the next couple of months it is going to be very important that we pace ourselves to not become burned out by the effort to repeal SB5.  With the granting by the Supreme Court of person status to corporations with regard to political activities, you know that huge money will be in play because the next step is making Ohio a Right-to-Work-for-Less state.  It is also important to be prepared for the largest privately financed effort to beat back an issue ever marshaled by any special interest group anywhere in the history of politics.  Ever.

I have a more in depth analysis on my blog, Through the Mill (through-the-mill.com).  Click on the Analysis icon on the left and cursor down to the article titled “Ohio, Wisconsin and Why the Rush.”

Brothers and sisters,  keep focused.