June ’12 Cleveland Citizen


Business Agent Tim Moennich and trustee John Driscoll, Jr. were recently in Washington DC talking with our area congressional delegation.  Most of the conversation centered around project labor agreements (PLA’s), Davis-Bacon Act and prevailing wage laws and their impact on the region.

According to Wikipedia a PLA is “…a pre-hire collective bargaining agreement with one or more labor organizations that establishes the terms and conditions of employment for a specific construction project.  Before any workers are hired on the project, construction unions have bargaining rights to determine the wage rates and benefits of all employees working on the particular project and to agree the provisions of the agreement.”  The Davis-Bacon Act set the requirement on any federally funded public works project over $2000 that the prevailing wage in the area be paid to the workers on the job.  This prevents unscrupulous contractors from driving down wages in a region.

It is even more important now that we support labor-friendly candidates at all levels of government.

Everyone that took the hydraulic controller, scaffolding, signaling and rigging and the welding classes offered through NEIEP should have received the results of their final exams.  Continuing education is the most important aspect of our trade and it sets us apart from our non-union rivals.  The classes offered through NEIEP are your best bet to keeping your job.

Take full advantage of the opportunity that is available.

I am currently working with NEIEP on the next issue of Lift Magazine.  The theme for the issue is safety and I am looking for your help to fill out this issue.  I am looking for safety related stories about close calls, problems found on jobs or incidences where you feel like the elevator gods were looking out for you.  All submissions will be anonymously included.  This means I will not identify you or your employer in any way, shape or form without your complete consent.  I will need your contact information to confirm your story with you prior to it being included.  You can email me at dknapik@windstream.net if you have a story you would like to include or have any questions.  This is an opportunity to share your experience with others in the International and make a positive contribution to the trade.

At a special meeting of the governing board of the Building and Construction Trades department, Sean McGarvey was elected president to replace Brother Mark Ayers who suddenly passed away on Easter Sunday.

The Benefits Office will be mailing the annual retiree’s certification to all of the retiree’s receiving benefits.  The purpose is to ensure that everyone is following the plan rules on disqualifying employment.  This is a mandatory form that all retiree’s need to fill out and return.

The IUEC Local 17 Golf Outing was held on June 2nd at Mallard Creek Golf Club.  There were 51 active and retired brothers and guests in attendance.  This year there were two teams tied at 1-under par for the outing championship and as in the past the winner was determined by a putt-off.  Besting the team of Rob Hanson and Mike Wickham were Mike Moennich and his son Sean.  Photos of the day are available on the local’s website, iueclocal17.org.

Do not forget to mark your calendar for the first IUEC Local 17 Classic Car and Bike Night to be held July 13th at the hall located at 3250 Euclid Avenue.  The event will follow the regularly scheduled union meeting and food and refreshments will follow.  You are welcome to bring either your old classic or late model classic-to-be.  This is going to be a great time and opportunity to get together with the members and swap some stories about our favorite rides.

Tim wants me to remind everyone that is they are on a job that lasts for more than two days, they need to call the hall and report their location.  This is a requirement of the by-laws and it helps Tim and the International keep track of the amount of work in the local.

As of this writing there are 14 mechanics out of work.




May ’12 Cleveland Citizen

Brothers and sisters:

The major news at the April union meeting was the unanimous passage of the upcoming contract between the IUEC and NEBA by the locals at the ratification meeting held April 12th in Baltimore.  Our delegates, Dennis Dixon, John Driscoll, Jr. and Brian McTaggart and led by Business Agent Tim Moennich, literally returned from the ratification meeting minutes before the local’s union meeting.

Unlike the last contract there were no major points of contention and our givebacks were minimal at best.  The companies also made concessions and eliminated the “three strikes” language which caused a flooding of mechanics to the International escalating the unemployment situation around the country.  As I said previously, the International and NEBA are to be commended for quickly coming to an agreement that allows everyone in the IUEC to do what we do best… provide the best elevator and escalator service to our customers.

June 2nd is the annual golf outing being held this year at Mallard Creek Golf Club, 34500 Royalton Road, Columbia Station.  Tee-off time is 9 am and the cost is $90.  This includes cart, 18 holes of golf with food and refreshments at the turn and afterword.  As always, it will be a two-man scramble format.  So find a partner and join in on what is always a very good time whether you play golf or not.

The July 13th union meeting, besides being our second one held this year on a Friday the 13th, is our first IUEC Local 17 Bike and Car Night.  After the regular meeting, there are refreshments and food planned for everyone that wants to bring their classic or new-classic car or bike and enjoy some great food, drink and swap gear-head stories.  I will be there with Bridget, my ’73 MGB, taking pictures for the Constructor and our local website, iueclocal17.org.  Everyone takes joy in their restoration project or preserving a small piece of transportation history.  Come and share the pride in your ride.


In Union There is Strength

A father had a family of sons who were perpetually quarrelling among themselves.  When he failed to heal their disputes by his exhortations, he determined to give them a practical illustration of the evils of disunion and for this purpose he told them to bring him a bundle of sticks.

When they had done so, he placed the bundle into the hands of each of them in succession and ordered them to break it into pieces.  They tried with all their strength and were unable to do it.  He then opened the bundle, took the sticks out separately, one by one, and again put them into his son’s hands upon which they broke each of them easily.

“My sons, if you are of one mind and unite to assist each other you will be like this bundle, uninjured by all attempts of your enemies, but if you are divided among yourselves, you will be broken as easily as these sticks.”

From Aesop’s Fables


With St. Patrick’s Day 2012 a memory, I want to write about a conversation I had with a family member of a union brother.  Her name is not important but her message is.

After the parade, we met at a traditional after-party at one of downtown Cleveland’s fine hotels.  From the 10th floor we could watch the end of the event with its marching units, floats and finally the cleanup crew.  She is a veteran of the day, being of Irish heritage and participating for several years as a child whose father worked in the trades.

I asked her about her impressions.

“You know what I saw down there?”  She paused for effect and said “families.”

“I saw families coming together and enjoying the day. I saw mothers and fathers creating memories for their children and do you know the best part?”  Her voice rose in anticipation of her next point.  “They were not all Irish!”  She went on to enumerate the races and ages and how everyone was laughing, singing and enjoying the day.

I somewhat cynically remarked about how alcohol can do that.  She retorted that it wasn’t all about alcohol, it was about family.  That reminded me about the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt, and his refusal to partake of St. Patrick’s Day commercialism by going about his normal day and attending church in the evening.  To paraphrase “that is how we celebrate in Ireland and that is how I will celebrate in America.”

When I reflected later on her words and thought about the families gathered together in that hotel room, I began to see the day in a different light.  While alcohol lubricates the wheels, family gives us direction long after we sober up.  It is our family that keeps us centered and cemented in reality.

There are times when we as good union brothers and sisters must keep what happens in the hall at the hall.  This is good business.  When we gather with our spouses, children, parents and the rest of our blood family with our working family, we not only spread the message of unions as inclusionary institutions, but add more sticks to the bundle to make us an even stronger assembly.

In union there is strength.  In union, with family, we are invincible.


April ’12 Cleveland Citizen

At the March union meeting, Business Agent Tim Moennich reported that IBEW Local 38 member John Walczak’s son Nick was one of the shooting victims at the recent tragedy at Chardon High School.  Nick had been shot several times and was at the Spine Therapy unit at Metro Hospital.  He was in serious condition and it was unknown whether he would walk again.

IUEC Local 17 and all its members send their thoughts and prayers to Nick and his family for the strength to endure the long road to recovery ahead of him.

The Union Sportsman Alliance is a non-profit conservation based hunting and fishing organization exclusively for union members and their families.  The USA’s primary goal is to protect wildlife habitats while guaranteeing access or hunters and anglers.  They are non-partisan and do not take positions on or endorse political parties, candidates or agendas. Their membership is free and open to all union members and their families. They can be reached through their website at unionsportsmen.org.

As this issue of the Cleveland Citizen goes to press our delegates will be returning from Baltimore and the ratification vote for the new five-year contract between NEBA and the IUEC.  If you were at the March meeting Tim outlined the basic structure of the agreement.  There will be pay raises in each of the five years and a portion of which going to bolster NEIEP, the annuity, health and welfare and the pension.  The most onerous section, Article X paragraph 6 which outlined the three-strikes policy for apprentices in sitting for the mechanics exam, was eliminated and the probationary period was extended from six months to one year.  There were some other minor concessions but nothing that created the rancor associated with the last five-year deal.  All-in-all it appears to be a solid deal which allows everyone to do what they do best.  In the end, that is what makes for a good union contract.

IUEC Local 125A in New Foundland, Canada reported that they signed an agreement ending their two and a half month strike.  They wanted to thank all of their North American brethren for the support they showed through their struggle.

There is still time to get your reservations for two upcoming events and mark your calendars for a third.

On Friday, April 20th our local will be honoring its retired members at Fran Sterle’s Slovenian Restaurant, 1401 East 55th Street.  Refreshments start at 5:30 and a family style dinner will be served at 6:30.  The cost to active members is $30 per person and retirees are free.  If you are planning to attend please contact Mike Hogan through the hall or you can email him at m.hogan67@yahoo.com.

Second, make room on your calendar for the IUEC Local 17 Golf Outing to be held June 2nd at Mallard Creek Golf Club, 34500 Royalton Road, Columbia Station.  Tee time is 9 am and the cost is $90 which includes golf, beer, pop and dinner.  Please have your checks mailed to Mike Hogan by May 1st.

July 13th is Local 17’s first Classic Car and Bike Night to be held in conjunction with the monthly union meeting.  We are planning a cookout and refreshments after the meeting and of course spending time sharing stories about our rides.  The meeting starts at 6 pm and anyone can bring their car or bike.  I know there are members with modern classics like Challengers, Chargers, Mustangs and Corvettes as well as Harleys, Indians and Hondas of all description.  They are all welcome as well as those muscle cars and classic rides from the sixties and seventies.  I will be there with my LBC, Bridget, taking pictures to share on the website, iueclocal17.org, and in the Constructor.

This is a real opportunity to meet other members and share some great motoring experiences.

ThyssenKrupp has agreed to pay $65 to the purchase of work shoes or boots that meet their safety standard.  The footwear must be oil resistant, have leather uppers, hard toed and EH rated to be eligible.  See your superintendent for more information.

March 2012 Cleveland Citizen

In your quarterly dues letter there are two important letters from Entertainment Chairman Mike Hogan all IUEC Local 17 members will want to make a point of attending.

On Friday, April 20th our local will be honoring its retired members at Fran Sterle’s Slovenian Restaurant, 1401 East 55th Street.  Refreshments start at 5:30 and a family style dinner will be served at 6:30.  The cost to active members is $30 per person and retirees are free.  If you are planning to attend please contact Mike Hogan through the hall or you can email him at m.hogan67@yahoo.com.

Also make room on your calendar for the IUEC Local 17 Golf Outing to be held June 2nd at Mallard Creek Golf Club, 34500 Royalton Road, Columbia Station.  Tee time is 10am and the cost is $90 which includes golf, beer, pop and dinner.  Please have your checks mailed to Mike Hogan by May 1st.

Four apprentices are currently enrolled in the NEIEP apprenticeship program.  Just a reminder that your OJT forms need to be turned in on a timely manner so your apprenticeship hours can be accounted for.  So please get your forms in on time.

There are sign-up sheets available for scaffolding and hydraulic controller theory classes.  If you are interested please contact Business Agent Tim Moennich at 216-431-8088 or email him at TMoennich@iueclocal17.org.


NEIEP’s new area coordinator, Jeff Burns from Local 9 Minneapolis, reported that our new apprenticeship standards were approved by the US Department of Labor and he will be working to get them approved by the state of Ohio.

There are two new online offerings NEIEP will be rolling our very soon.  The first is an escalator lab which will give great insight to those who do not normally get to work on escalators.  The second offering is a hydraulic valve lab which will explain the theory and application of how valves work.  To help illustrate the concepts, NEIEP is looking for UC4 and UV5 hydraulic valves.  If you or someone you know is tearing one out, please have your superintendent contact Tim about donating it to NEIEP for inclusion in their program.

As times get tighter, companies are looking closer at their employees.  One area that they are paying special attention to is continuing education and particularly the courses offered through NEIEP.  I have had more than one superintendent tell me that when the mangers look at whom to keep one factor is the amount of continuing education the individual has completed on their own.  The courses offered to every elevator constructor through NEIEP are comprehensive and free of charge.  Take advantage of them.

Since Saint Patrick’s Day is a few days away, Local 17 wants to invite every member of the local and their families to participate in the parade.  Edmonds Elevator has once again donated the use of their truck.  The parade will be held along Superior Avenue and we usually line up near the Plain Dealer building.  It is a great opportunity to meet other members and their families as well as create some special memories for your children or grandchildren.

January ’12 Article to the Cleveland Citizen

January 13th is a mandatory meeting for the installation of officers.  If you do not attend and are not on vacation or working overtime that night, then you will be subject to a $20 fine.

NEIEP is offering three opportunities for continuing education this first quarter.  The first opportunity is a three-night OSHA 10 class to be taught by John Taylor.  The dates are yet to be determined.  Second is another welding class leading to 3G and 4G certification.  It will be taught over two weeks from 5pm to 9pm at Lincoln Electric, the world leader in arc welding equipment headquartered in Euclid, Ohio.  For proposed class dates and other details, contact Business Agent Tim Moennich at 216-431-8088.

Lastly, NEIEP has developed a number of new online courses, labs and videos covering a number of topics. These are all offered at no cost to constructors.  If you have a particular class you would be interested in seeing Local 17 offer, please contact Tim as our instructors are willing to start a class if there is enough interest.

Congratulations to Brother John Goggin for being the first member of Local 17 to receive his signalman’s certification.  This is an online course offered through NEIEP and completed with a written and oral examination by the NEIEP area coordinator.  It is free and offered to all elevator constructors.

Brother Tom Koch will be stepping down this year from the school board.  On behalf of everyone in the local and in particular those that have had the honor of being your students, I would like to say thank you for the dedication and patience you have shown to everyone you have touched through the years.  You have made a positive impact on the trade in general and Local 17 in particular.  We are all richer for your efforts.  His spot will be taken in January by Jerry Reitz.

If you have not started to save money for the end of the contract, start now! The new year is a great opportunity to get a handle on your income and potential expenses for the future.  People never plan to fail they just fail to plan.


Make it Something Great


I’m sitting here on the cusp of 2012 pondering the year that has been, to put things lightly, tumultuous at the least and revolutionary in so many ways.

We started off the year with a slew of new governors, most notably Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and our own John Kasich, ramming through public-sector collective bargaining bills that limited union negotiations on a variety of issues.  We in Ohio repealed SB 5 in such a landslide that our once boastful governor looked like a schoolboy who just took a whipping from his headmaster on election night.  It was a great win for labor and sent a clear message about the power that well organized groups can still have on our political class.

This coincided with the Arab Spring that over threw long entrenched dictators from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and the continuing struggle to unseat the leader of Syria.  While these countries are not progressing in the American mold of freedom, they are creating their own expression of democracy that suits their Arab heritage.  The quandary is whether these new governments will be friendly to America or become radical Islamic states.  Essentially overthrowing the dictator they knew for the dictator they did not know.  Now with the recent death of Kim Jong Il, North Korea has a young and untested leader with his finger on the nuclear button.  Keep that in your sights for 2012.

In America we have the Occupy movement which has succeeded in raising the awareness of the 99% that live under the Golden Rule (the one percent with the gold makes the rules for the 99%) to the excesses of Wall Street and the Federal Reserve.  In Oakland they shut down the port in support of the Longshoremen and were attacked in several cities by the police force with no provocation.  The attempts by the establishment to frame them as old hippies getting their last kicks before retiring to Florida have failed because the face of these protestors is young, clean shaven and linked together by social networks.  This makes it very difficult to cut off the head of the movement because there is no central figure to demonize.  The only way to smash them is to crush the idea that freedom exists in America and the idea this republic was founded upon the preservation of individual liberty is a fallacy.  The push back on these protestors is either the death throw of the old guard or the institution of more liberty seizing programs by the self-appointed rectors of all that is good.

It is because of Occupy and the Arab Spring that Time Magazine named the protestor as their person of the year.  A prediction… Occupy will gel into a true political movement and be a force in 2012 like the Tea Party on the right.

We now have the traveling circus called the GOP primary with its calliope of revolving frontrunners.  My prediction for 2012… the one to come out of this mess to run against President Obama will be the winner of a war of attrition that will fracture the GOP and give the president a second term.

If you have been watching the History Channel with any frequency you know that the Mayan long count calendar ends on December 21, 2012, the winter solstice and shortest day of the year.  While I do not believe that we are on the dawn of the biblical Apocalypse, I do believe that this year, with all the tumult leading into it, will be a small “A” apocalypse for the entrenched powers seeking nothing more than their own selfish agenda.  What can and must rise out of the ashes of 2011 is a new realization that the old paradigm is over and a new thought process that encompasses our new reality has taken hold.

Facebook has succeeded where eons of religion, politics, geography, philosophy, art, literature, war, peace, education, money, TV, radio and newspapers all failed.  We are all now linked into each other in ways no one has ever dreamed.  The question then becomes… is this new linked reality good or evil?  A tool is not inherently good or evil.  The new reality will be what we make it.

Make it something great.


December ’11 Cleveland Citizen

Brothers and sisters:

On behalf of IUEC Local 17 I would like to wish a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone affiliated with the North Shore Federation of Labor.  Here is to a happy and safe holiday season to everyone and their family.

Meeting Notice:

The December and January meeting are special called meetings for the election and installation of officers.  If you cannot attend then you must contact the hall prior to the meeting or be subject to a $20 fine for non-attendance.

Starting January 1, there will be a $1.15 increase in the mechanics pay scale.  Each classification will receive an increase at their percentage of mechanics rate.

The annual Children’s Christmas Party will be held on Saturday, December 3rd from 1pm to 4pm at 3250 Euclid Avenue.  Refreshments and entertainment are provided and everyone is asked to bring a pastry.  This is a wonderful family event that brings old and young together and is a great kickoff to the Christmas season.

There was a very important mailing about a potential identity theft issue involving the Benefits office and Value Options, the network provider of mental health and substance abuse treatment.  According to the letter sent out to every participant, a computer tape containing personal information was lost in transit from Value Options back to the Plan office.  The information was provided to Value Options in order to qualify participants when they sought services.  Since neither the Plan office, Value Options or the carrier used for the shipment have located the tape, they arranged for identity theft protection through Debix for all plan participants at no cost for one year.  This includes members and their covered dependents.

Identity theft is nothing to be taken lightly.  If you have received the letter and not acted on it, I implore you to contact the Benefits office and take advantage of this opportunity to protect yourself and your dependents.  A link to the Benefits office is available through iueclocal17.org under the Union Links button.


Brother Jeff Ford’s brother and retired Brother Bob Pudimat’s stepson, Captain Joe Ford, returned from service in Iraq.  Thank you to him and everyone serving their country.

At this writing there are 18 mechanics and one apprentice out of work.


If there was any doubt in the minds of anyone as to the sympathies of the Ohio electorate on the issue of public-sector collective bargaining, then the November 8th tsunami that led to the resounding defeated State Issue 2 spoke volumes.

Every single union member, whether public or private sector, must stand up and shake the hand of the brother or sister next to them over the defeat of Issue 2.  The turnout was nothing less than incredible and the 61 to 39 beating the Republican led Statehouse took on the issue was landslide by any measure.  In the heady afterglow of victory, there are still battles to be fought and the next one is forming as we speak.

The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, a Columbus-based “non-profit, non-partisan legal center dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of Ohioans from government abuse” presented 1621 signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office to turn Ohio into a right-to-work-for-less state.  They need only 1000 valid signatures to get the go ahead to gather 386,000 signatures to place the “Ohio Workplace Freedom Amendment” on the November 2012 ballot.

The amendment would turn Ohio into the 23rd right-to-work-for-less state and the first since 2001 when Oklahoma voted in RTW legislation.

This is the same group responsible for State Issue 3, the amendment to opt-out of the new federal health insurance program, which passed by a 66 to 34 percent margin.

Union brothers and sisters make no mistake, the conservative right and Tea Party activists are out to destroy American labor and their hard fought for victories.  I’ve often wondered why conservatives in particular hate us so much.

I have a lot of flippant answers but the serious one I keep coming back to is they fear the concerted action by many because it is harder to demonize a group than an individual.  The right has continuously portrayed union members as sub-humans who cannot find their asses with both hands.  Union leaders to them are cigar-smoking, whiskey-drinking, backroom dealing fat cats who are out for no one except themselves.  What a minute… isn’t that the traditional image of the robber baron of the Industrial Revolution that the conservatives love?

Conservatives are the ones that have all the correct answers and any logic that does not fit their mold of the world is rejected as obtuse thought.  This is a snobbery that perpetuates the class warfare that continues to tear at the soul of America.

I have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with people of all social strata:  CEO’s, corporate honchos, small business owners and politicians at every level through to the people that empty their trash cans.  People are remarkably alike in their root desires after their basic needs of food and shelter are met– we all want something better for our children.

Being a union member does not guarantee success and it does not shelter failure.

Being a union member, being productive at your job, and having the opportunity to make a better life through better wages, benefits and working conditions is something worth fighting for.

Now is the time to clean your guns, stock up on ammo and be prepared.  The conservatives are coming

November ’11 Cleveland Citizen

Brothers and sisters:

The North Shore Federation of Labor is asking your support for our union brothers and sisters in the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 880 (UFCW) and their efforts to negotiate a fair contract with Rite Aid.  While Rite Aid’s profits have soared they have cut hours and benefits for their represented workers and have refused to come to the table with a reasonable offer that maintains workers integrity.

Consequently the UFCW, North Shore Federation of Labor and their affiliated unions and locals are asking all members of the building trades to boycott Rite Aid.  The other represented pharmacies, CVS and Giant Eagle, each offer incentives to those members looking to transfer their prescriptions.  The UFCW is a great union that truly puts its members first.  We need to support our union brothers and sisters with the combined effort of Cleveland area labor voting with their pocketbooks.

Meeting notice

The November 18, December 9 and January 13 meetings are mandatory special meetings for the nomination, election and installation of officers.  A $20 fine will be issued for non-attendance.  Requests for exemptions from attendance must be presented to the Local 17, Executive Board or Business Representative prior to the meeting either in writing, in person or by phone.

I am very pleased to announce that the new issue of Lift Magazine, a publication of NEIEP, should be in the mail as we speak.  The theme of the issue is New Technology.  There are articles on ThyssenKrupp’s Twin system, PMS motors and regenerative drives, MRL systems and the new performance-based elevator code.  It is another tool in NEIEP’s box of continuing education for the new and experienced member.  There are also a number of classes available online.  Please take the time to check out the site at neiep.org to enhance your knowledge in the trade.

At the October meeting, Business Agent Tim Moennich reported on three deaths in the International.  The details were sketchy, but this needs to be a reminder to everyone to work safe, work smart and be very aware of what is going on around you.  Another important aspect is to not cut corners on safety or Article IV team work.  If you need help on a job, call for it.  If you can’t get it, lock it out and tell them to send a team.  Safety is no accident.

Callback from Hell

A member recently took a callback at a Parma apartment complex.  When checking out the pit, the car did not stop when he popped the bottom door lock.  When he examined the lock he found the wires jumped together on the same stud.  After correcting that issue, he decided to check the rest of the door locks.  When running the car down from the top landing, he found the same situation with the top lock.  He also discovered furniture on the car top.  When he informed the building management and the Parma Police, they arrested one the residents on a number of charges. Again, safety is no accident.

Cleveland Brown’s All-Pro lineman Joe Thomas donated ten tickets along with vouchers for food, parking and sweatshirts to be given to out of work members and their families.  The tickets are for the November 13th game against the St. Louis Rams.  Local 17, as of this writing, has five tickets left.  If you or someone you know can use the tickets, then give call Business Agent Tim Moennich a call at 216-431-8088.

Schindler recently paid $2000 to the Contingency Fund for Article IV flooring work given to other contractors at the UH Cancer Center.  This was in addition to the amount paid previously for another trade blocking cable holes on the same job.  Keep vigilant.  Your out of work brothers are counting on you.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”


Since the election is only a few days away, I do not need to remind everyone reading this that a NO vote on Issue 2 is vital to supporting our brothers and sisters in the public-sector unions.  This is the home stretch on what has been a tsunami of support for the repeal of this union busting, ill-conceived notion that in order to balance local budgets, it is necessary to legislate what the government cannot negotiate.

I was talking with a friend who knows a member of a local school board.  The board member was telling him that if Issue 2 passes, then the system will be able to keep off the state watch list.  My friend’s response was that at contract time the board needs to hire better negotiators.  Most contracts have a reopen clause which allows either side to amend an agreement before the end of the contract.  The IUEC used this with NEBA to create the Assistant Mechanic slot which has put several thousand brothers and sisters back to work since its acceptance in August 2010.

There is also binding arbitration with public-sector contracts that is designed to avoid strikes and impasses.  According to the October 16 issue of the Plain Dealer the last public-sector strike was in July 2009 and there have been 16 total strikes in the last five years.  There were 18 cases of binding arbitration in 2010 according to the Ohio State Employment Relations Board (SERB).

SERB is the agency charged with collecting, tracking and analyzing the public-sector contracts for the state of Ohio in much the same way that the GAO does for the federal government.  The agency currently has 3,285 contracts on file.

In that same edition, the PD Editorial Board endorsed the passage of Issue 2.  An unemotional reading of the piece indicates that there was much debate among the members before arriving at the decision to endorse its passage.  An analysis of their logic, particularly in their naïve notion that the GOP led government would reexamine the more onerous aspects of the law, shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the first Law of Politics “He who has the Gold makes the rules.”  Most, if not all, office holders are beholden to this law through those that fund their campaigns.

North Shore AFL-CIO Executive Director Harriet Applegate wrote in her October 22nd rebuttal that “telling Ohioans that public employees are the problem and consequently have to pay for a crisis that was not of their making is deceitful and wrong” hit the nail square on the head.  The flood of letters decrying the papers endorsement and the number of subscription cancellations because of it is further proof of the acrimony following this issue.

Does their need to be reform?  What form should it take?  Who needs to sacrifice and how?  These are all valid questions that need answers as the state moves forward after the defeat of Issue 2.


October ’11 Citizen Article

Brothers and sisters:


As a result of the unprecedented petition drive that generated nearly 1.3 million signatures from every county in the state, the repeal of SB5, the bill limiting public-sector union bargaining, will appear on the ballot as Issue 2.  The AFL-CIO is looking for volunteers to work the phone banks and canvass neighborhoods to push for the defeat of Issue 2.

Because the official ballot language asks if you approve of SB5, in order to repeal the law a simple majority of voters must vote NO on 2.

We all know what is at stake.  Not only is SB5 an open attack on our public-sector brethren, it is a war declaration on every worker; public, private, union and non-union, to drive down wages and reduce the standard of living throughout the state.

If you or someone you know wants to be involved in this history making push to defend our public-sector brothers and sisters, call Business Agent Tim Moennich at 216-431-8088 and he can get you started.

Congratulations to the following men who passed this year’s mechanics exam:  Joseph Broz, Jr., David Brurke, Jason Costa, Cristino DeJesus, Kevin Driscoll, James Ehrbar,  Craig Haller, Anthony Karovich, Thomas Kelly, Stephen Kemp, Jonathon Koch, Heath Kramer, Timothy Lieb, Timothy Narowitz, Don Page, Ronald Rittwage, Brian Semanco, Joseph Simcic, Jason Sohayda and Jeff Ward.

Since there will be only seven students in the apprenticeship program next year, Local 17 will be using distance learning for those enrolled.  Although they will be studying at home, there will be a gathering once a month at the school with instructor Jerry Reitz.  This is the first time Local 17 will be using distance learning for its core curriculum.

Meeting notice

The November 18th, December 9th and January 13th meetings are mandatory meetings which a fine will be assessed for non-attendance.

The last week of August, the IUEC held its 30th General Convention in Orlando, Florida.  Local 17 sent a delegation of four consisting of John Driscoll, Jr., Dennis Dixon, Brian McTaggart and Business Agent Tim Moennich.

The highlight of the convention was General President Dana Brigham’s address to the delegates on the state of the IUEC.  In his speech he emphasized the challenges the International is facing going forward toward the contract negotiations.  While elevator constructors are still the highest paid blue-collar job and we still hold over 90% of the Article IV work, 20% of the International members are out of work and some are losing their homes as a result.

Because of this, Regional Director Clint Mathews was charged with getting members back to work.  The International also initiated the Assistant Mechanic agreement, first with Thyssen-Krupp and then with the other NEBA companies, which put 1000 members back to work.

He emphasized that now, as much as before, the need to give 8 for 8 and that those that abuse the system will no longer be tolerated.

The problems of prefabrication keep chipping away at our work and the problem has gotten worse with the globalization of the elevator business.  The companies are streamlining their product line to sell worldwide and that adds to the prefab installation issues. The situation has accelerated since the introduction of the machine roomless elevator to the North American market and the adoption of the performance-based code ASME 17.7.

He concluded that the International will do everything in its power to avoid a work stoppage, but that every member needs to save as much money as possible in the event that one happens.  I would encourage every member to read my previous months’ article from The Cleveland Citizen, which is posted at the local’s website, iueclocal17.org, for ideas on getting started on saving for the next nine months.

At the convention, Tim put his name in for a run at an International vice-president position.  “I ran because I felt I had something to offer the International” he said addressing the September meeting.  After his nomination, he was under intense pressure to withdraw, but he stood his ground and kept talking about ways to move the International forward.

Although he fell short in the final balloting, the positive mark he and our other delegates left on the International leadership and the delegates from other locals raised the profile of Local 17 from a renegade band to a local with the best long-term interest of the International at heart.

At this convention the rest of the International discovered what we already knew.

Local 17 would like to extend their congratulation to the new officers of the Cleveland Building and Construction Trades Council.  Terry McCafferty from the Pipefitters is the new vice-president, Sheet Metal workers Mike Coleman is the new treasurer and Jim McManamon of the Boilermakers is the new trustee.

Also at the September meeting, Tim read a letter from the California Department of Industrial Relations about “devices which remotely interact with conveyances.”  The substance of the letter targeted to elevator companies doing business in California was that it has come to their attention “that devices have been installed on conveyances which interact remotely to change parameters, check and reset faults, open and close doors and various other functions.”

It goes on to say that monitoring operation is acceptable as is monitoring or interacting from within a building or complex.  The state will “remove from service any conveyance found operating with a device which can remotely change its controls.”  In other words, California is saying that monitoring is OK, but running a car and resetting faults from half way across the country is not.

Thank you California for standing up for safety!



September ’11 Citizen Article

Brothers and sisters:

Meeting notice:  The regularly scheduled November meeting has been rescheduled from November 11 to November 18 in honor of Veterans Day.  Please note that the November, December 9 and January 13 meetings are mandatory for the nomination, election and installation of officers.  Fines will be assessed according to the bylaws of the local for non-attendance.

By the time you read this, our delegates will be on their way back from Orlando and the 30th General Convention of the IUEC.  Their job will not be an easy one.  With all of the major challenges facing the local and international in the upcoming contract negotiations with NEBA, setting the table to face these challenges is not going to be an easy task for anyone involved.  The companies have their agenda and we have ours and while there are many overlaying points of accord, the points of discord are what will determine the course of the next contract.

Will there be a strike or a lockout?  The companies tried a lockout in Manhattan a couple of years ago and they failed to break Local 1when pulling in supervisors and tech personnel from around the country to try and man jobs.  They even supplied armed body guards for these replacements.  The result was they could not keep up with the workload on a little rock like Manhattan, how would they man the jobs across the country in the event of a work stoppage?  As one person who was “asked” to go put it – they can’t.  Do not be surprised at anything that happens between now and July 2012.

The biggest stick the companies have is the fear factor but how you respond is completely under your control.  The best thing you can do is to have a plan that keeps your family’s needs covered for at least six to nine months.  Think of it as a personal preparedness plan in case of a disaster.

What are your monthly expenses?  Sit down and take a critical look at your finances with an eye toward what is essential and what you can live without.  For my family it was items like long distance on the land line, a cell phone, golfing, pleasure drives, premium cable service and going out to eat a couple times a month were things we could sacrifice.  Add up items like your mortgage, car and insurance payments.  Go on budget billing for your utilities.  All these are ways to get a handle on what your minimum expenses are.

Save, save, save.  How much do you have saved in your bank account or hiding in a 401K?  Can that cover your expenses for a half year?  Unemployment will pay $400 to $500 per week in the event of a lockout but nothing in the event of a strike.  Be prepared to cover your expenses for an extended period.

Update your plan on a regular basis.  Doing this evaluation now will give you a great foundation for possibilities down the road, but it is not the end of the road.  Reevaluate your situation at least once a month.  Are you expecting a baby?  Do you need a new car?  What are the tuition payments for college going to be like next year?  Life happens and when you plan for changes, plan for the unexpected as well.

Keep informed.  This means pay attention to what is going on around you at work and what you hear is going on at the other companies.  It is not always wise to take a rumor on face value.  It can be disinformation passed on by the companies to illicit a particular reaction or feign a move they have no intention of completing.  Be judicious in whose words you put value.  Their words might not be worth the paper they are written on.  If you hear something that is out of kilter and you want it confirmed, call Tim.  More times than not he will be able to tell you if what you hear is bunk or the truth.

The best way to keep informed is to attend the union meetings, especially this coming meeting on September 9th when our delegates will be back from the convention.  This will give you the opportunity to hear all the details first hand.  As the contract negotiations go on, please check in regularly with the local’s website, iueclocal17.org, for as complete coverage as possible.

These are just a few ideas on how to prepare for the upcoming uncertainty of the next contract.  Please keep in mind that how you prepare is a personal decision that needs to be discussed between you and your family.  So what if nothing comes to pass and everything is OK?  Then celebrate and enjoy the fruits of being in the best trade in the trades.

August ’11 Cleveland Citizen

Brothers and sisters:

Happy August!  Back in January when the temperature was sub-zero we looked with longing to these days and vowed we would never complain about the heat again. How good are we at keeping those promises.

The Mechanics Exam is scheduled for September 14th at 8 AM at the classroom at 2435 Superior Avenue.  As we speak, Rick Myers is prepping the apprentices for the rigors of the exam.  Do not forget brothers, this is the only unbiased assessment of your knowledge of the elevator trade you will ever have.  Make the most of the opportunity.

Another opportunity for continuing education is the offerings through NEIEP.  Recently nine brothers took the welding course offered through NEIEP and the facilities of Lincoln Electric, the leading manufacturer of welding equipment located here in Euclid, Ohio.  This class offered G3 and G4 certification for those that passed the exam.  Second is a scaffolding class that certifies you to install scaffolding in a hatch on certain construction jobs.  Lastly, there are a slew of continuing education offerings available through the NEIEP website.  Take advantage of those whether you are working and especially if you are not.

At the July meeting a motion was made and seconded to take the money budgeted for the annual Summer Picnic and use it to purchase grocery gift cards for the brothers and sisters out of work.  The motion passed without opposition.  There is still a plan for a fall family event which will be announced at a future date.  Keep your eyes here and on the website iueclocal17.org for updates.

The IUEC pension plan was given relief by Congress to spread losses realized in the crash of 2008 over 29 years versus the 15 years and smooth out investment losses over ten years instead of four.  This means that the plan will remain in the green zone for pension plans for the foreseeable future.

Labor Day weekend be sure and get to Day Park in Parma, immediately adjacent to Tri-C West, to cheer on the Local 17 softball team as they compete in the annual Cleveland Building Trades Softball Tournament.  The schedule has not been set, so stay tuned to iueclocal17.org for an update on when our men will be playing and the final results of their effort.

The IRS increased the mileage rate to 55.5 cents per mile effective July 1, 2011.

The next regularly scheduled meeting will be September 9th at 6 pm.

Casino Update

After a 31-day lockout as Rock Gaming negotiated with Governor John “Little Caesar” Kasich who sought to leverage the developers for a bigger cut of the pie, the two finally came to a resolution and mercifully put several hundred waiting craftsmen back to work.  Currently, Schindler has two teams on site doing tear out of two cars and expects to have seven teams eventually on the job.  The casino is looking to open March 26th, 2011.


Condolences go out to Brother Randy Thompson whose mother passed away July 5th and Brothers Jack and Jason Saunders whose mother and grandmother, Dolores, passed away June 21st.

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

Getting out the vote

You know that times are changing when Republicans are running around in circles trying to figure out how to counter the landslide turnout expected when organized labor unites across the state to overturn Senate Bill 5.

What our friends on the right are ginning up is an attempt to opt out of the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress in 2009.  This is what they refer to as “Obama Care.”  The idea is to counter what is sure to be an overwhelming turn out at the polls in November to overturn SB5 with an issue the Tea Party right hopes will draw enough conservative voters to keep the union-busting bill Little Caesar pushed through the statehouse.

But is this going to be enough to draw out conservatives in large enough numbers to defeat the SB5 repeal?  Early indications show that the support for the measure to overturn the health care law is lukewarm at best.  There are stories that the organizers, Ohioans for Healthcare Freedom, had to pay professional circulators to gather petition signatures.  While this is not unprecedented on either side of the political spectrum, it begs the question:  how many SB5 repeal circulators were paid?  My guess is not very many, if any at all.

The Ohio Republican Party gave a lack luster endorsement of the effort.  According to a May 14th article in the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio GOP Chairman Kevin DeWine declined to say whether the party would commit money to the campaign.  “We’ve endorsed the issue, and we’re fully engaged in helping them get on the ballot, and when we’re successful we’ll take the next step to see how the party can help to ensure its passage,” DeWine said.

Candidate and issue support is purely a business decision for the parties.  In an election, either party will size up the measure and determine whether it is a winner or a dog.  If it is a winner, then the money flows like liquor at a convention.  If it is a dog, the question becomes how flea infested is it.  If it is a good measure and the party can make some positive inroads in the area, it will most likely invest in the campaign, although with less bravo than a sure winner.  If it is a dog with fleas, the candidate or initiative will die on the vine from lack of support.

Behind every issue on the ballot is a political consultant getting paid to advise the candidate or issue on how best to present their case to the public.  One of the major ploys they use to make their efforts appear “grass roots” is to create a “group” or “organization” and give it a name like Citizens Against Pilfering Politicians or People United for Grass Hopper Rights.  This gives a front of legitimacy to the effort and makes them look like they were organized by the retired grandmother down the street or the local branch of the Rotary Club.

The way to see through this is in the disclaimer.  Every political advertisement has to tell you who paid for it, whether it was a corporation, political party, candidate’s campaign committee or some hybrid group fronting for one of the above.  Next time you find a political advertisement, do a quick search on the address of the “group” and you will find it most likely to trace back to the offices of one or the other major parties, law firms representing them or consultants hired by them.  This is how we are tricked into thinking that all these “concerned citizen” groups are grass roots but instead are nothing but astro turf.

This is how it is going to be in Ohio.  We are going to be astro turfed to death by pro and anti SB5 repeal ads and groups like Ohioans for Healthcare Reform claiming to be the one place of truth about the issue and their opponents are nothing but evil and out for their own selfish gain.

We as Ohioans, and we as Americans deserve better.  From both sides.