March ’17 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and sisters:

Local 17 is proud to announce that after a three year campaign by the Local 17 Volunteer Organizing Committee, Business Manager Tim Moennich, Akron Local 45 Business Agent Dave Morrow, Jr., regional organizer Jim Lowery and head of organizing Jim Biangini successfully signed Gable Elevator as an IUEC signatory company.

In a Facebook post dated January 25th, Morrow made the announcement saying “I look forward to working with the new members and owners Rick Gable and Phil Isaac.” He punctuated the message with “Welcome to the IUEC Brothers! Local 45 and Local 17 joint effort!”

The signing brings 21 new members into Local 45. The decision for the Gable employees to go into the Akron local was based on the company being located in the Akron territory with a large portion of their work being conducted in Local 45. They will be working in the Cleveland area and will have to follow all of the rules that every signatory employee does when working in another Local’s territory.

Well, looks like the easy part is over.

I’m hearing a lot of you reading this saying “wait? What?” Yep, the easy part is over, the hard part is going to be making these new union Brothers feel welcome. Although I was raised in a strong union household, my own personal experience with organized labor was not always positive.

I spent part of one summer working in a grocery warehouse represented by the Teamsters. When I needed help I called the Local and had the door slammed in my face. So when I was approached about going to work in this trade knowing that I would have to join the union, I took a deep breath, swallowed hard and took the plunge with a “let’s wait and see” attitude.

Two months into my probationary period, I was laid off because of money. Within a week our business agent had me working in Columbus where I met some of the best guys to I could have worked with. The work was hard but, I learned my way around an elevator and did my best to make sure that at the end of the day all my mechanic had to do was wash his hands. Eventually I came home and worked at Millar and through the merger found myself back at Schindler.

For years after my swearing in I only came to the mandatory meetings and didn’t really take part in any of the Local’s activities because I didn’t feel a part of the group. Even after I ran and won my job as the correspondent to the Constructor it still took time before I felt accepted. Eventually I got to know more guys from different companies and began to see from my unique vantage point what it meant to be called Brother. It is not just something we call each other because it sounds good, we call each other Brother or Sister because we are a family. We argue, we laugh and we console. We eat and drink together and teach each other. When we are stuck we call Brothers from other companies to help us out and return the favor without charge.

These are the things we do because we are part of one of the most exclusive clubs in the trades. We make the most, have the best benefits and retire better than most people can dream.

In the end, this organizing effort was not about breaking Gable as a company, it was about raising their employees up. It was about giving them the opportunities we take for granted: the pay, the benefits, the education. If you see one of them out and about, take the time to introduce yourself, talk to them, answer their questions and take an interest in them.

After all, who wants to be part of a club where they don’t feel welcome.

The Brothers and sisters of Local 17 send their condolences to the family of Retired Brother George Prochaska who passed away January 4th.

Until next month,

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.

Don
DKnapik@windstream.net