November article for IUEC Local 17
By Donald Knapik
Brothers and sisters,
First off, congratulations go out to Brothers Ed Gimmel, Ryan Foley, Nick Meyer and Chris Wyant for passing the mechanics test. As I have said before, and every mechanic will tell you first hand, the easy part is over. Now it is your responsibility for the job being done right and the safety of your partner and the public at large. Remember, you do not have all the answers, no one does, so pick up the phone and call someone you trust. That simple act could save a whole lot of head and heartache.
Please note on your calendar that the November 11th, December 14th and January 11th meetings are mandatory meetings for the nomination, election and installation of officers.
At the October meeting there was a first reading of the amendment to the local by-laws increasing the dues $10 every January 1 as long as deemed necessary by the local trustees and treasurer. Any amount over the $10 will need a two-thirds vote in order to pass. The trustees and treasurer are recommending an additional$10for a total of $20. This will be voted on at the December 14th meeting which will also be a mandatory meeting for the election of officers.
Last month, Business Agent Tim Moennich attended a national meeting of the business agents of the IUEC to discuss and get updates on a variety of issues facing the International. At the meeting NEIEP director John O’Donnell gave an overview of the programs the organization will be rolling out over the next few years. There is a new four-unit course on automated people movers and virtual troubleshooting and escalator labs that are being rolled out now. In the works is a cab work class covering the topics of flooring, woodworking and working with glues and glass. NEIEP is also partnering with Pellee and this year will come out with a freight door lab as well as a line starter lab.
NEIEP is pushing the need for more constructors to take the rigging, signaling and scaffolding classes offered through their website, neiep.org, and at the local level. Nationally, laborers are taking this work because of the lack of certified constructors. And do not forget about the OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 certifications needed to even walk on some worksites. All of these continuing education opportunities are being paid for by the 23,000 members on the International. That means you and me and everyone else. Having a unique skillset could mean the difference between working now and continuing to work later.
The Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund (EIWPF) gave an update on their efforts to secure work on the windmills that are springing up over the nation. In July, Work Preservation and NEIEP met with Siemens at their gearbox manufacturing plant in Illinois and a wind farm in LaSalle, IL. The effort is to not only secure the installation of the elevators in the larger windmills but also of the equipment housed in the nacelle, the “machine room” of the windmill. These structures contain unique hazards like 12,ooo volts of electricity and high rescue training in the event of an accident.
The one thing the IUEC has in its favor is that we are already familiar with the equipment present in a nacelle, generators, gearboxes and brakes, and we would be able to supply a national workforce to the windmill owners. There is also a move in several AHJs to cover the windmills under A17, the code covering elevators.
This is a potentially very important addition to the work we claim which could secure good work for many constructors for a long time.
New General President Frank Christensen addressed the gathering to encourage the International to pull together and move forward, putting any bad blood behind us. He also echoed the need to increase the continuing education opportunities for mechanics.
At the Ohio Building and Construction Trades Convention, one of the big issues was a resolution to raise the per capita paid by member locals by three cents per hour per member until 2015 and then raise it to five cents per hour per member. This would quadruple the per capita paid by Local 17. Some of the increase would go toward a fund called ACT Ohio which does lobbying and public relations on behalf of the OBCTC.
Finally, GET OUT AND VOTE. If you do not vote you lose the right to complain.
Personal Notes on Leadership
I have been watching the presidential debates and looking at both Governor Romney and President Obama and wondering to myself which one I feel more comfortable leading the United States for the next four years. This has not been an easy task.
President Obama inherited what could be very kindly called a mess. The litany of problems he faced on January 20, 2008 was huge. We are all well aware of them so I will not even attempt to itemize the incredible list for fear of missing one or two.
Four years ago I was genuinely torn between Obama and Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. I went in the voting booth, for the first time in my life, conflicted over whom to cast my ballot for. It took a flip of a quarter and two heads to cast my ballot for Obama. I watched as the Republican herd was thinned to Senator McCain for the nomination. My mind was still not made up. I watched each of the candidates very closely during the interceding months to see exactly where they stood on the different issues that faced the nation.
There were two factors that swayed me to believe that Obama deserved my vote. The first came during the debates as I watched each of the men and their seconds face off on the critical issues of the day. I was not so much interested in what they said but how they said it. Senator McCain was a “maverick”, whatever that meant, and he took every opportunity to tell you how much of a maverick he was. Then Sarah Palin picked up on the theme and beat that horse right into the ground. What I got out of the debates was that the McCain/Palin team was all over the map and unpredictable on their stance on any issue from day to day. Conversely, Obama projected an air of confidence and placing a steady hand on the ship of state. We do not want leaders that are all over the map. We want predicable.
The second came in a series of CBS News interviews where both candidates were asked the same questions and their unedited responses were aired during the broadcast over the course of a week. The interviewer asked both candidates how they could relate to the average American. McCain’s response was garbled at best and he seemed taken aback by the question. Obama responded by telling a story about how before his book “The Audacity of Hope” started to sell well he and Michelle would sit down at the dinner table to pay their bills and often times they had to make tough choices on who got paid that month. In that moment I felt that he got it. He understood how the vast majority of Americans felt at the end of the month.
In that moment he got my vote.
During the last four years I have not always agreed with the positions or policies that President Obama has put forth, but the overall effect has been positive. The economy is getting stronger and people are going back to work, Osama Bin Laden is dead, the troops are back from Iraq and Afghanistan is winding down. Unfortunately the deep recession we are coming out of has given the conservatives canon fodder to try and unseat him.
Enter Mitt Romney. As the GOP candidate he has changed his mind several times on many key issues mostly to appeal to different constituencies during the campaign. His own words, used here and elsewhere in the media, have proven that he really is not consistent in his policies and is condescending towards those below him. I do not doubt that he truly believes what he says, but does he say what he believes? I don’t know. And that is the pebble in my shoe that keeps me from accepting him at face value.
Many believe that this election is a choice between the lesser of two evils and the lesser is still evil. I believe that it is the choice between someone who has a steady hand on the ship of state and someone who is disingenuous with those he wishes to lead.
I will not have to flip a coin in the voting booth this time.