February ’16 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and sisters:

At the November meeting Local 17 was proud to host all three International General Officers: President Frank Christensen, Assistant President Jim Bender, Secretary Treasurer Larry McGann and Regional Vice President Ed Christensen.

Christensen led off by talking about the six members who lost their lives. “These where men who left home in the morning and didn’t come home that night. We (the members) need to make it about making it home rather than anything else.”

According the Christensen the International appointed three new regional safety directors and established a safety committee to investigate industry accidents and deaths. The International has been working with OSHA and the Department of Labor to gain access to job sites when there is an accident. The committee and its establishment has led to a better safety relationship with the signatory companies.

Over the last three years the General Officers have attended 40 local union meetings. They have also initiated regular meetings between NEIEP, Work Preservation, organizing, benefits and all divisions of the union. This was done because it is “important to hear what is going on in the union.”

However, everything was not rosy. According to Christensen, there was significant pushback by the companies over the union offering QEI training for its members and problems with different locals involving embezzlement and insolvency.

The recent announcement that the IUEC established a relationship with the Puerto Rican elevator union, Union Los Gladiadores, extended the reach of the International into the Caribbean. Christensen also talked about the outreach to the unions around the globe. He talked about how in Australia Kone and Otis attempted to deunionize until their employees stood up and the companies backed down and the attempts by the IBEW to organize elevator constructors in Italy. “The relationships we are building are important when, like during the New York lockout, companies try to bring in workers from outside the country to do our work. This makes it harder for them to do that.”

Assistant President Bender, from Local 19 (Seattle), handles many of the grievances at the International level. He told attendees about grievances he’s handled and the success the International had in many of them but admonished members to “ethically and honestly report your time and check off only the procedures you have done.” He related the story of a grievance involving a maintenance technician checking a box that grouped several tasks together and the companies attempt to fire him over it. “Only check off the work you’ve done.”

“When it comes to a grievance issue,” he continued “be honest with your business agent when it comes to the facts of your case. It will make it easier to grieve and win at a lower level.” He encouraged members to stick together on legitimate issues and said that it could have a positive effect on grievances and grievance settlement.

Finally, Secretary Treasurer Larry McGann announced that our pension plan has maintained its Green Zone status even through the economic downturn of 2008. As of now, the International has $6 billion in the retirement fund and is able to cover its obligations where many plans prior to 2008 invested in highly speculative instruments and got burned. “We purposely stayed away from volatile investments and came out in good shape.”

Hours equal money to the fund and the more hours the better it is for the fund as a whole.

Finally, in the last contract, the union was able to leverage the hours in the in the 401k and annuity as a way to prevent a lockout. “When our members have the financial resources to stand together, it makes it easier to negotiate what we want.”

Anyone who would like to submit a resolution for consideration at the 2016 General Convention, the deadline is April 12.

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


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