September ’18 Elevator Constructor

Local 17 article for September ’18 Constructor

Brothers and Sisters:
The International has asked the Local to start two initiatives. First is a political action committee to aid in voter registration drives, research local candidates and aid in passing state licensing of elevator constructors. Second is a local health and safety committee made up of union members and company representatives to discuss safety related issues. Both are in their formative stages. Watch this space, the Labor-Citizen and the local website, for more information.

If you are not registered to vote, REGISTER and SHOW UP AT THE POLLS! Remember, if you do not vote, you lose your right to complain. Period.

This year more than ever highlights the phrase the Right used as a warning from 2008 to 2016 and rings even louder with every early morning Twitter feed: elections have consequences.

The Right leaning Supreme Court dealt a severe blow to unions in the Janus decision crippling unions’ ability to collect dues from those who benefit from the contracts negotiated on their behalf. When I was a student at highly conservative Ashland College (before it became Ashland University), freeloaders were looked down on by the Young Republicans. Now they are Old Republicans and giddy to the point of intoxication with the ruling that freeloaders can skate along on the coattails of the same people they work beside. Now that there will be another Supreme Court nominee cementing the hold of the Right on the court for decades, what will be the next ruling to effect those working in organized labor?

Will the Right go after your pension? They are trying that right now with new rules on how solvency for some funds is calculated. If the new rules go into effect are you prepared to give up half your pension check every month? How will a firmly Right Supreme Court react? Are you willing to sit back and find out?

Elections have consequences.

They have consequences for hundreds of children kidnapped by Federal authorities under the color of law. Look into the face of your children and imagine the terror in the realization you may never see them again after months of traveling to leave a place where gangs will kill you just for fun. Put yourself in the place of an ICE agent who has to listen to the wailing of a five-year-old wondering what happened to their mother.

Elections have consequences.

As a direct result of a ginned up “Trade War” and the tariffs resulting from it, hundreds of people are out of work, factories, including the iconic American brand Harley Davidson, are closing operations and moving them abroad. Soybean farmers can no longer sell to China and, despite what you may have heard, the EU will not accept their genetically modified crop.

Elections, my friends, have consequences.

Attempting to turn back the clock to another time is not the answer. Dropping from the Paris Climate Accord, retreating from a deal with Iran, pushing away our NATO allies, emboldening our enemies and getting North Korea to re-agree to the same things it agreed to for the past 30 years is not leadership. This is posturing that has cost the United States its place at the table and abdicated the leadership of the free world to Teresa May, Angela Merkel, Xi Xing Ping and Vladimir Putin.

Elections have consequences that far outlast the latest angry missive. They have consequences that outlast administrations. They have consequences for us, the real people working to keep the United States UNITED.

Doubling down, my friends, is not a sane option.

The Brothers and Sisters of IUEC Local 17 send their condolences to the family of Brother Ken Eaton who lost his grandson.

As of this writing there are two mechanics and one apprentice on the bench.

Until next month,

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.



August ’18 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and sisters:

I have been fortunate to have worked with three Local 17 Brothers who, over the last three months, joined the ranks of our retired Brothers. Each in their own way played a significant part in my career and I owe them a debt of gratitude. If it was not for these and the others who took the time to teach me some of the finer points of the trade, I do not know where I would be today.

According to NEIEP, the average apprentice spends only five percent of their time in classroom related activities. This means that the remaining 95 percent is spent with their mechanic in the field learning the trade from the ground up. By all measure, our jobs are not getting easier. Recabling underslung cars, replacing MRL machines and their associated sheaves regardless of whether they are belted or cabled, working on controllers on the buck and drives in the overhead all call for a certain skill set we are only developing now.

This does not mean that the skills seasoned mechanics have acquired over the years are obsolete. Skills are being applied in new ways to meet the demands of todays equipment. I was recently working on a cable job and the lead mechanic took the time to explain to the apprentice why we picked the car as high as we did, why we needed holdbacks and how to measure for wedged shackles. These are all finer points of the job he will carry forward during his career.

If you as a mechanic are not teaching your apprentice something everyday, then you are failing them. You will leave them dumber and less capable of handling the challenges they will later face. You are also making it harder for them to continue working to pay the pension hours needed to sustain you in retirement.

Not every apprentice takes the initiative to learn something new or is even capable of retaining what they experience. Point taken. Selling every apprentice short today, though, only cuts you short tomorrow.

Think about it.

If you know someone who is looking to get in the best trade in the trades, the apprenticeship application for Local 17 will be closing soon. To apply go to the NEIEP website,, cursor down to Upcoming Recruitments and click on the link for Local 17. Please realize that each applicant must meet every deadline in order to be considered for a spot on the list. Good luck!

Where are they working?

Kevin Driscoll and Jason Tischler at Kresswell Apartments doing water damage repair for Schindler,

Gary Thompson, Brian Siether, Ryan Todd and Zack Lanum doing a four-car mod at CSU Rhodes Tower for Schindler,

John Patton and Joe Gauker doing escalator clean downs at JC Penney’s in Parma for Kone,

John Patton and Joe Gauker doing escalator clean downs at Midway Mall in Elyria for Kone,

Tom Gombar and Tim Moore doing a jack at Rockside Park Towers for Kone,

Mark Byram and Felix DeJesus doing a one-car mod at Playhouse Square for Schindler,

Joe Gauker running a car at the Cleveland Athletic Club for Kone,

Scott Villanueva and Zach Miller at Fairview Hospital doing door work for Otis,

Anthony Metcalf and Tony Kuhn starting a one-car mod at Shaker Courts Apartments for Thyssen,

Dan Tinner and Shane Huff starting a two-car mod at Bridlewood Apartments in Westlake for Otis,

Ric Supinski on a 13 car construction job in Marquette, Michigan for Otis.
As of this writing there are three mechanics and one apprentice on the bench.

Until next month,

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.

January ’18 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and sisters:

2017 is over.

Some will shout thank God and others will be sorry to see it go. For me, I feel a little bit of both. Starting in December of 2015 my mother’s health declined to the point where she was no longer capable of living at home and is now at a nursing home. My younger sister and her husband cleaned out the house, prepped it for sale and as a result I wound up with a small room full of artifacts to wade through and dispose of.

This has given me a new perspective on value. As I dug through the assembled debris of my mother’s life, memories called from the bottom of the boxes: a metal lunch box, a blue plastic lard bucket filled with toy cars, a Pony League Championship trophy, a hand-made long drive champion award, a pole vaulting Smurf, photos, photos and more photos spoke to moments from my past that aided in making me who I am today.

When my older sister Carol passed away, I was blessed with a true family heirloom: a clock brought over by my great grandfather from Poland as the family fled the onslaught of the Russian army in the 1890’s. The unique part of the story is that he had to cut off the top in order to fit it in the steamer trunk. One of the few links from the old world to the new. It still keeps perfect time.

When I look at the assemblage of items I coveted for years: my mother’s desk, my father’s retirement clock, my grandmother’s chair and my grandfather’s bronzes I reflect on their journey through time. These are the artifacts of my heritage and I will pass them to my children along with… what? More things?

I remind myself that this is just stuff. Stuff does not define me. I define me. I am happiest when I am pedaling my bicycle on an adventure and all I have in the world is what I am carrying in the panniers, meeting people and creating memories. This is all I really need.

My challenge is to let go of what holds me back, be it physical objects or emotional chains. The emotional chains? Well, that is a story for another time.

To all my Brothers and Sisters in the IUEC family; Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and work safe.

The January 12, 2018 union meeting is a mandatory meeting for the installation of officers. You must call the hall prior to the meeting in order to be excused and avoid a fine.

Where are they working?

Joe Broz, Jr. and Andrew Daniels at Tower in the Park doing a mod for Thyssen,

Tom Gombar and Tom Goggin installing battery units at Philips Medical for Kone,

Brendan Hyland and Jeff Lindell installing two cars at Vanguard for Kone,

Heath Kramer and Jon McCuan installing a pump unit at Mount St. Herman for Kone,

Drew Williams, Bill Sellers, Mack Carollo and Ed Gimmel doing a two car mod at Severance Urgent Care for Thyssen,

Bob Brady and Cory Huhn replacing light fixtures at the Cleveland Clinic for Otis,

Scott Villanueva and Zach Miller doing service work at Fairview Hospital for Otis,

Joe Simcic and Morgan Armstrong installing two cars at CSU for Otis,

Craig Nolty and Dan Koprowski installing a car at Explorist for Otis,

Al Ward and Pat Pollack installing three cars at 1 University Circle for Otis.


As of this writing there are two mechanics and one apprentice on the bench.

Until next month…

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.



December ’17 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and sisters:

Before the hustle and bustle of Holiday preparations takes over your thoughts, please take some time to reflect on people and events that have impacted your life. It could be a happy event like a wedding or the birth of a child or grandchild or a challenge like dealing with the death of a loved one or the aftermath of a natural disaster. Each one of these events mold each of us from who we were to who we are, our thoughts, attitudes and perspectives changing imperceptibly from event to event.

Ask yourself: “Am I happy with what I’ve become?” Regardless of how you honestly answer the question, use it as a vehicle for change to plot a course for your upcoming year.

Your future self will thank you.

When was the last time you trammed a motor? Years? When you were the helper to the guy that did all the bull work? Do you remember what tools you need? How about tolerances? Are you sure your mechanic knew what he was doing? NEIEP is offering a course in the art of motor tramming. Yes, it is an art and a deep skill to properly align a motor and worm gear shaft so there are no excessive side forces providing the smoothest possible ride and the longest machine life. If you are interested in relearning this important skill, learning it for the first time or refreshing your knowledge, call Business Manager Tim Moennich at 216-431-8088 or email him at for more information.

At the October meeting Tim read several letters from the International about funds set up for those Brothers and Sisters living in areas devastated by Hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria. The area most severely hit and still devastated by the aftermath is the island of Puerto Rico. The nightly news carries story after story about how these brave Americans weathered the storm and the slow response of those on the mainland to their plight. The International has set up a fund specifically for our Brothers and Sisters of the Los Gladiadores. According to IUEC Regional Director Rusty Gilbert, most of the island is still without power, the banking system is spotty at best and even if people have money there is really nowhere to buy supplies. This fund will ship good directly to the island as funds become available.

Any member wishing to make a donation can send a check to the International headquarters at the address in the front of this issue and note it is for the Los Gladiadores Relief Fund.

Local 17 will hold the annual Children’s Christmas Party on Saturday, December 16, 2017 at the hall located at 3250 Euclid Avenue. The event starts at 1 pm. Children up to and including twelve years old will receive gifts. Families are asked to bring baked goods while soft drinks will be provided. As in years past, Santa will be in attendance. This is always a well attended event and a lot of fun for members and their families.

Congratulations go out to Kaitlyn DeJesus the daughter of Chris DeJesus for being one of five students selected for the IUEC Scholarship award.

Where are they working?

Jeff Lindell and Dave Francis doing a mod at Cleveland Athletic Club for Kone,

Don Knapik and Joel Reyes doing a mod at Richmond Park apartments for Schindler,

Bob Brady and Cory Huhn at the Cleveland Clinic doing mod work for Otis,

Scott Villanueva nana Zach Miller doing service work for Otis,

Joe Simcic and Morgan Armstrong installing two cars at CSU for Otis,

Al Ward and Pat Pollock installing an elevator at One University Circle for Otis,

Craig Nolty and Dan Koprowski doing a mod at the Federal Reserve Bank for Otis,

Tim Narowitz, Anthony Metcalf, Matt Harden and Russel Barrows doing a mod at Three Villages for Thyssen,

Kenny Jung and Dion Yatsko doing a jack at Park Center 2 for Schindler,

Gary Thompson, Mark Byram, Shawn Yatsko, Ryan Todd, Rob Timko, Felix DeJesus and Brian Seither doing a mod at the Standard Building for Schindler,

Chris Wyatt and Chris DeJesus working in Indianapolis for Schindler,

Tim Wood and Bob Meyer replacing step chains at GM for Thyssen,

Jim Thompson and Steve Keating doing a mod at Southpoint Hospital for Otis,

Tom Gombar and Tim Moore doing a jack at Rockside Park Apartments for Thyssen.


As of this writing there are two mechanics and one apprentice on the bench.


Until next month,

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.



November ’17 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and sisters:

Last month I wrote about Harvey devastating Texas. As I was on vacation bicycling the Vermont side of Lake Champlain, Irma tore through the Caribbean and then the Gulf side of Florida. Then, as if the region hadn’t seen enough, Maria destroyed Puerto Rico.

As of this writing, it is forecast that power will not be restored to the island for another five months. Shipping containers full of relief supplies are piling up at the dock because of a lack of truck drivers. In the rural areas there is no potable water, food or fuel for generators. The military is on site attempting to clear roads and restore services but, even their efforts are slowed by the severity of damage.

Please keep in mind that even though we are separated by an ocean, those in Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands are every bit an American as those who trace their heritage to our founding fathers. This is the time when the IUEC can reach out to our Brother and Sister constructors on the island and help them put their lives back together so they can put Puerto Rico back together.

That is what being an International Union is all about.

At the IUEC national meeting there was a renewed emphasis on safety for members and the public. One of the interesting points was that in the last three years, three members died while working on the bottom floor door locks. These are arguably the hardest items to work on in a typical elevator installation. Members not doing proper local out-tag out and not taking full control of the elevator where cited as reasons for some of the fatalities. The International’s Safety Committee is working with OSHA to get more elevator language into the OSHA standards and with the companies to keep the field peoples phones from ringing while they are working on equipment.

Business Manager Tim Moennich was in Columbus with representatives of the Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund working with State Representative Ron Young to gain his support for an elevator licensing bill for Ohio. 32 states currently require that anyone working on an elevator or escalator must be licensed by the state authority. This limits the ability of buildings to allow their maintenance people to work on the vertical transportation.

The following meetings are mandatory for the nomination, election and installation of officers: November 17, December 8 and January 12. All members must attend or have a valid reason properly communicated to the hall prior to the meeting. You can contact Tim at 216-431-8088 or by email at

Where are they working?

Mark Byram, Gary Thompson, Felix DeJesus and Brian Seither working on the mod at the Standard Building for Schindler,

Scott Villanueva and Zach Miller doing service work for Otis,

Bob Brady and Jason Saunders doing a four car mod at Trinity Towers for Otis,

DJ Spring, Al Ward, Andrea Rodriguez and Deven Shields installing three cars for Otis,

Joe Broz, Jr. and Andrew Daniels doing a mod at Willoughby Hills Apartments for Thyssen,

Don Kaiser and John McCuan song no-load safety tests for Schindler,

Don Knapik and Mike Beros installing key switches at 1717 for Schindler,

Tony Kuhn and Bob Connelly doing a four-car mod at PNC for Thyssen,

Drew Williams and Mark Carollo working in Toledo for Thyssen.


As of this writing there are three mechanics on the bench.

Until next month…

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.


October ’17 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and sisters:

As I write this article, the images of the complete and total devastation of the Texas Gulf coast and the ramifications thereof are only beginning to come to light. According to press reports 33 people are confirmed dead, 311,000 are signed up for relief and the President is pledging $5.9 billion to the inundated region.

As elevator constructors the best at this writing we can do is keep our brothers and sisters and their families in the affected areas in our prayers and be prepared to supply the aid and relief they will so desperately require. I know that Locals will donate money to relief causes and the most generous of us will open our own wallets to help those in need. The American Red Cross and Salvation Army are great resources for those who want their monetary or physical donations to go to where they are promised.

As those who worked through the damage done by Katerina and Sandy will no doubt testify, there will be ample work for all the trades in the aftermath of this storm. I would encourage those who are able to travel to talk to your superintendent about offering your services to the affected area.

Time after time in the aftermath of tragedy, America has put aside its divisions and rallied to the aid of those who found themselves in harms way. Who doesn’t quote from Franklin Roosevelt’s inaugural speech “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself?” What about “a date which will live in infamy?”

Standing on the hallowed ground of Gettysburg, Lincoln said in part “the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here. …from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

After Challenger exploded 73 seconds into its final flight, who could forget Ronald Reagan speaking to assembled nation about those brave explorers losing their lives as they were reaching for the stars? What about President Bush on the smoldering remains of the Twin Towers addressing the crowd from a bullhorn pledging to bring those responsible to justice? What of President Obama at the end of his address at Mother Emmanuel to those mourning the senseless loss of their loved ones spontaneously breaking into a hymn of forgiveness?

These are touchstone moments that defined the character of The United States of America to the world as more than an assemblage of those of random heritage and dubious lineage. However you as an individual may feel about those men and their politics, there is no way you can question the depth of their commitment to the nation which elected them to serve as Commander-In-Chief and their most important role: Comforter-In-Chief.

They defined us as a nation of character, willing to put the needs of the many before the needs of the individual.

They defined us a nation of resolve willing to sacrifice for those we do not know that which we hold most precious.

They defined us a nation of compassion willing to hold up those who feel they can no longer stand up on their own.

They defined us as a nation united in principle, purpose and calling.

They defined us as The United States of America.

Until next month…

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.



September ’17 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and sisters:

As this issue of the Constructor is hitting your mailbox kids are going back to school, leaves are falling and I should be getting off the Lakeshore Limited in Albany, New York and beginning my 165 mile bike ride to St. Albans, Vermont. Whenever I write or talk about these adventures the inevitable questions becomes “why do you do it?” Well, there is no easy answer to that question.

The short answer is that I am a very restless person. The physical nature of cycling, the people I meet and experiences I have ground me to the belief that even though the world as a whole is a jumbled mess, people of different backgrounds connect best when they connect on a personal level. This is where all pretense falls away and genuine conversation begins. The road to sanity has to start somewhere. Mine starts in Albany.

Brother Tim Gibbons passed the mechanics exam and started on the route vacated by the now retired Brother Bruce Koprowski. The Local sends congratulations to both Tim and Bruce on these milestone achievements.

Hot on the heels of this spring’s walleye fishing charter, Entertainment Chairman Bill Dudas announced a second charter scheduled for Saturday, September 9th. The cost is $40 per person. The charter is limited to the first 30 people who sign up for the event. If you are interested, you can contact Business Manager Tim Moennich at 216-431-8088 or email him at

Thank you to the 30 active and 40 retired members of Local 17 that attended this years Local 17 Retiree’s Dinner. For pictures of this always well attended event, go to and click on the Galleries tab.

There was enough interest in having someone from Mass Mutual, the company that administers the 401K and Annuity program for the IUEC, give a presentation on the plans that a representative will attend a Special Called Meeting to answer any questions. Watch this space or the Local’s website,, for more details.

If you are interested in getting involved in the 401K plan, you can inquire at your employers office. It is as simple as filling out a form and the returns can be impressive.

In a letter read in part by Tim at the July meeting, Assistant General President Jim Bender reminded all Locals that prior to starting any new construction or modernization job every member must notify the business office of the location of that job. This is a requirement of General Law XXVI No. 24.

Where are they working?

Drew Williams and Mark Carollo doing a mod at the Halle Building for Thyssen,

Joe Broz, Jr. and Andrew Daniels doing a mod at Willoughby Hills Towers for Thyssen,

Tom Gombar and Joe Gauker doing safety tests at NASA for Kone,

Pat McCann and Robert Connelly doing a four car mod at PNC for Thyssen,

Craig Nolty and Dan Koprowski installing a hydro at the Phoenix Building for Otis,

Dave Gnagy and Matt Carlton doing a four car mod at the Four Seasons for Schindler,

John Logue and Brandyn Alley doing a four car mod at the Cleveland Clinic for Otis,

Chris Scholle and Carl McBride installing an elevator at Lakewood High school for Thyssen,

Tony Kuhn and Ken Eaton doing a three car mod at Summit One for Thyssen,

DJ Spring and Deven Shields installing an elevator at the East 105th Street Parking Garage for Otis,

Al Ward and Andrea Rodriguez installing an elevator at Middle Park Academy for Otis,

Bernie Sickle and Chris Cook doing service work at the airport for Schindler.


The Brothers and Sisters of Local 17 send their condolences to Brother Al Jerson who lost his father and retired Brother John Taylor who lost his daughter and two grand daughters.

As of this writing there are four mechanics on the bench.


Until next month…

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.