October ’19 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and Sisters:

In July of 2016 I was cycling the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath Trails between Pittsburgh and Washington DC. After a day and a half of cycling up hill from Pittsburgh to the Eastern Continental Divide, I started the decent to Cumberland, Maryland. Along the way I crossed the Mason-Dixon Line (which is a real line across the path) and shortly there after came across a hiker with a backpack and large American flag. It is not unusual to see bikes decorated in any variety of styles but a hiker really stood out. Since it was almost July Fourth I stopped to talk with him.

His name was Marty Wills and he couldn’t have been much taller than me but his legs were chiseled from walking with an extraordinary load. He was wearing shorts and worn boots but the other thing that stood out other than the flag was his shirt with the number 22 in large print on the front and back.

His mission was to walk from Muskegon, Michigan to Camp Lejune North Carolina to raise awareness of the 22 veterans who commit suicide everyday. The number was a bit staggering to me and a bit of math put that total number for a year at 8000 deaths. After a brief conversation, I shook his hand, he took a picture of me, I took a picture of him and each of us continued our journey.

As I laid in bed that night I could not help but feel very small. Here I was doing these rides for reasons which at that time were not totally clear to me and this man was giving part of his life to help his brothers and sisters in arms survive one more day. I also thought about the men and women I saw every week when I took care of the elevators at the VA in Brecksville. There were older veterans, mostly from the Vietnam era and occasionally a soldier with a ball cap commemorating service in Korea. The vast majority of the faces were not much older than my own children, mid- to late 20’s at best, and were there for drug, alcohol and mental health counseling.

These were the ones he was trying to save.

His story has stuck with me to this day.

Since the article about my fight with depression and the untimely death of one of our members, I have received positive feedback from those around the country who are dealing with the same issue. I want everyone to know that the only reason the stigma around mental health continues is because people are reluctant to discuss it and feel there are limited resources available.

By the time you receive this issue of the Constructor, the Local 17 website, iueclocal17.org, will have links to resources available to not only IUEC members and their families but to the community at large. I want everyone visiting to know that any link clicked on the site is done in total anonymity. There are no cookies or trackers on the site. Period. The only information seen on the web administrator dashboard is the number of clicks on external links.

Please feel free to pass those links on to friends, family or anyone who needs a hand. Also, if you know of an organization that can help those in crisis, pass it on at webadmin@iueclocal17.org.
Until next month,

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.

Don

DKnapik@windstream.net

September ’19 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and Sisters:

It is hard to believe that as I sit here writing these words at the end of July, you will be reading them at the beginning of September and school at all levels will be in full swing. If you are an apprentice in the program, no matter what level you are at, there is always more to learn about your subject. A good student never stop asking questions about the material (except when its 8:50 and the teacher is just as tired as the rest of the class) and seeking out answers and applying them to their job.

Study well and it will pay off in the end.

As you will see, work in Cleveland is great. This is the first time in over a decade there are temporary mechanics working in the field and help coming in from out of town to shore up short term jobs.

My advice to those working as a temp is to work hard, work safe and teach well. Many of you will have probationaries and you will be their introduction to the trade. Teach them how to get on and off a car top, in and out of a pit as well as proper safety practices for all aspects of the trade and you will set them up for success.
Where are they working?

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

Ken Bowles, and Shane Huff finishing a mod at Cleveland Clinic P Building for Otis,

Ron Johnston and Carl Turner doing a two-car mod at 740 Euclid for Otis,

Jim Thompson and Mario Adornetto doing a mod at The Carlyle in Lakewood for Otis,

John Logue and Pat Pollock doing a one-car mod at Lutheran Hospital for Otis,

Matt Pinchot and Brandyn Alley at The Deville doing a two-car mod for Otis,

Matt Weingart and Aaron Reed at Presidential Apartments doing a two-car mod for Schindler,

Joe Sumph and Brian Bond doing a two-car mod at Castlewood Apartments for Schindler,

Gary Thompson and Brian Seither doing a two-car mod at Mercy Hospital for Schindler,

Shaun Yatsko and Dan Varga at Medical Mutual Rose Building doing a two-car mod for Schindler,

Mark Byram and Felix DeJesus doing the mod at Penton Media for Schindler,

Don Yoho and Jay Schaeffer unloading three cars at Rocket Mortgage Field House for Schindler,

Jason Barnett and Don Yoho installing a car at Eastlake High School for Schindler,

Drew Williams, Joel Reyes, Brendan Highland and Russell Barrows doing a five-car mod at May Company for Kone,

Dave Francis and Andrew Daniels installing two cars at Top Golf for Kone,

Bob Meyer and Jon McCuan doing a two car mod at Fenway Manor for Kone,

Ric Supinski and James Hirz installing one car at Akron Children’s Hospital for Kone,

Bill Dudas and Tony Kuhn doing a two-car mod at the Archer for Thyssen,

Tom Reitz slowing down for safety at Thyssen,

Todd Ross and Morgan Armstrong decommissioning a car at the Bowery Building in Akron for Kone,

Anthony Metcalf and Mike Ross doing a two car mod a t Euclid Beach Apartments for Thyssen,

Jason Fredrick and Chris Sipos doing a two car mod at the VA for Thyssen,

Tim Narowitz and Matt Harden doing a two car mod at Enterprise Place for Thyssen,

Pat McCann and Brian Owens installing two cars a the University of Akron for Thyssen,

Scott Hicks and Tino Chaibai installing a car at Arial on Broadway for Gable,

Jim Ehrbar and Marc Carollo doing a two-car mod at the Lincoln Building for Gable,

Allan Langsdorf and Tim Mullins working for United Drilling drilling a hole for Thyssen at Royalton Place,

Scott Lang, Shawn Winter and Tim and Tom Finocchi from Pittsburgh tearing out two cars at 3100 Euclid for Schindler,

Jeff Ward and Scott Delauter installing a car at Belmont School in Indiana for Thyssen.

The Brothers and Sisters of Local 17 send their condolences to the family of Schindler mechanic Gary Thompson whose father passed away.

Until next month,

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.
Don
DKnapik@windstream.net

August ’19 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and Sisters,

This is a difficult article to write. As many of you know, we tragically lost one of our Local 17 brothers to a suicide. I know what it’s like to be a family member left behind by suicide as I have had two family members take their own life. And, I know what it is like to feel low, as I am sure everyone has felt down at some point in their life.

When a person suffers from mental illness and chooses to take their own life, so many questions linger. Why did they do it? Why did they think this was there only option? Why didn’t someone see this coming?

To deal with the challenges of life, a long time ago I retreated inward and passionately began two activities I continue to this day, writing and running. My early missives were uncharacteristically dark and nihilistic even for a teen in the 80’s. They dwelled on the futility of life and attempted to explain the post suicide survivor’s world into which I found myself unwillingly thrust. In running I found release for the anger I felt as I watched my mother and grandmother grieve their loss and my father not understand how to help. Aging legs had me hang up the running shoes and don a cycling kit but I still find the same calming solitude in the whirl of the tire and grind of the gear as the pounding of pavement.

The bike trips, writing, working on Briget, finishing my basement, planning my HO layout and all the other activities I have thrown myself into over the years have kept things in check in my life.

After the RC 600 final on Monday, June 1, I invited anyone in the class who was interested to meet me at Becky’s for a beer. Three people that took me up on the offer; one was our brother who ended up taking his life. I sat with him, drank with him and discovered that his wife and my son attended the same college at the same time. He talked about wanting to work maintenance as a career path. At the end of the evening, we paid our tabs, shook hands and I told him I looked forward to seeing him at the next union meeting. Saturday he took his own life.

I don’t know why he took his life. I don’t know why my family members chose their path. The only answer those who are left behind have is that there is no answer.   

Our condolences go out to our brother’s family as we pray he found the peace in death he could not find in life.

Please remember that the IUEC offers confidential counseling services through its Member Assistance Program (MAP) administered by Beacon Health Options. For more information go to achievesolutions.net/iuec. This is a benefit offered to you through our Health Benefit Plan. There is no additional charge to you. Never forget that you have options to get the help that you need. 

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

Don

DKnapik@windstream.net

July 2019 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and Sisters:

By the time this hits your mailbox in early July, Independence Day will be around the corner and I will again be on some sort of cycling adventure.  In the past my wanderlust took me to Boston and Portland, Maine, Albany to St. Albans, Vermont, Pittsburgh to DC and the Three C Tour (Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati) to dump a bottle of Lake Erie water into the Ohio River.  This year I’m at a bit of a loss to come up with some sort of destination.  The Seattle to Portland, Oregon run is probably not good due to wildfires and the Katy Trail across Missouri might be flooded out.

Drat.

I don’t know why I have this affinity for the Cuyahoga River valley.  The Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trial cut through a swath of industrial, farm and park land stretching from Wendy Park on the Erie shore south past Akron and into the Amish enclave of Zoar in Tuscarawas County.  There is something beautifully transcendent about navigating a place where history and industry so intertwine and around every corner is another swatch of the tapestry that makes northeast Ohio a special destination. 

I’ve done several sections of this ride over the years as a warm up for other runs but, with new sections opening up to reconstruct the canal’s path it might be time to scratch that nagging itch of curiosity about what is around that next bend.  After all, that is what adventure is all about. 

The May Local 17 meeting was attended by IUEC Assistant Director of Organizing Dan Baumann and former Local 17 organizer Jim Lowery to answer questions on local and national organizing efforts.  

On the local front, Menard’s has moved into the Cleveland area and not allowed any of the Cleveland Building Trades signatories, including the elevator signatories, to bid on their work.  Instead the general contractor, McConnell Excavating, brought out of town non-union workers to build the new store on Brookpark Road.  As a response, the CBT and Local 17 picketed the job with over 100 tradesmen and the inflatable rat greeting passers by on Brookpark Road.  

The elevator was installed by out of town, non-signatory Able Elevator from Louisville, Kentucky.  According to Baumann, Able as well as Oracle, Delaware and Richmond Elevator are part of a national organizing effort.

Lowery talked about how the successful three year effort of Local 17 to organize Gable Elevator has become a template for running an organizing campaign for the International.  “The campaign was so well run we are applying the lessons learned here to other locals around the country.”  He pointed to efforts in Louisville and Dallas/Fort Worth as locals using the Cleveland model.

On May 17, Local 17 held the annual Retiree’s Dinner at Harry’s Steak House in Independence.  Five retired Brothers: Ray Bowles, Mark Carollo, Ken Eaton, Robin Eaton and Scott Runyon received their Gold Cards and plaques from the International.  For full photo coverage, go to the Local’s website, iueclocal17.org.

The 2019 Local 17 Golf Outing was held on Saturday, June 1 at Hickory Nut Golf Course.  There were 60 members and guests shooting 18 holes of golf on a pleasant Ohio day.  The big winners of the day were Jeff and Scott Ward with a combined 7-under par 67 for the day. 

Brunswick Ward 3 Councilwoman Sister Andrea Rodriguez is holding a campaign fundraiser golf outing on July 26th at Bunker Hill Golf Course, 3060 Pearl Road, Medina.  The cost is $85 for golf and dinner or $30 for dinner only is paid before July 19.  For more information contact Chad Gibson at chad@bunkerhillgc.com.

As of this writing the bench is empty.

Until next month,

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.

Don

DKnapik@windstream.net

June 2019 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and Sisters:

As this issue reaches your home, the active Brothers and Sisters of Local 17 will be celebrating with the retired Brothers and Sisters of Local 17 at the annual Retiree’s Dinner held at Harry’s Steak House on Brecksville Road in Independence.

Every year I see many of the same faces. A few still look as good as the day they retired.
Many of them stooping a little lower, moving a little slower, stretching to hear and keep up with the conversation. It’s always good to see them, whether they drove themselves, hitched a ride with a buddy or were driven to the occasion by family.

After drinking a bunch of beer and telling a bunch of elevator lies, we sit down to eat. One of the first orders of business is to acknowledge the retirees at the gathering and read the names of those who passed away in the previous year. This is always a sad time. Many of the men I knew only as faces at the dinner, golf outing, Christmas party or stories told over coffee. Now it seems I’m moving into the phase of my life where I know them as faces from the machine room.

A couple of years ago I opined in a column that when looking around at a safety meeting for the “Old Timers” I realized that at some point my peers and I had become them. I don’t know exactly when that happened but, I know when I realized it. It was our turn to guide those around us like those who came before guided us.

As I look around the dinner every year, the hair gets a little grayer, the waistlines a little bigger and the stories a little taller but the laughter and camaraderie bind them together in this life and the next.

I look forward to the day when I can join them.
Where are they working?

DJ Spring and Deven Shields doing a two-car mod at Eaton on Chagrin for Otis,

Bill Sellers is in West Virginia doing a jack for Kone,

Ryan Todd and Rob Timko at Tru Hotel on East 70th installing two cars for Schindler,

Ken Bowles and Shane Huff at the Cleveland Clinic P Building doing a four-car mod for Otis,

Dave Gnagy and Matt Carlton at Steris in Painesville installing one car for Schindler,

Joe Sumph and Brian Bond at the Holiday inn on Rockside doing a five-car mod for Schindler,

Don Kaiser and Matt Herbold at the airport doing escalator work for Schindler,

Bob Rawdon and Dion Yatsko in Columbus doing a jack for Gable,

Dave Adrian and Matt Paige at the mill doing maintenance for Otis,

Bernie Sickle and Cory Ptak at the Renaissance Hotel doing door operators for Schindler,

Shawn Yatsko, Dan Varga, Mark Byram and Felix DeJesus finishing a mod at Moreland Courts for Schindler,

Anthony Metcalf and Jason Saunders at Euclid City Schools installing a two-stop elevator for Thyssen,

John Logue and Pat Pollock doing a one-car mod at Lutheran Hospital West,

Dave Francis and Andrew Daniels finishing a two-car mod at Cleveland Athletic Club for Kone,

Jim Thompson and Lem Hurd doing a two-car mod at 740 Euclid for Otis,

Dave Lehotan and Brian Chambers doing door operators at Lake Edge Condos for Schindler,

Al Ward and Brandyn Alley doing a two-car mod at Progressive Alpha Complex for Otis,

Bob Meyer and Jon McCuan doing a two-car mod at Fenway Manor for Thyssen,

Matt Hausler and Jason Mays doing a two-car mod at the Lincoln Building for Gable,

Drew Williams and Joel Reyes doing a five-car mod at the May Company Building for Kone,

Pat McCann and Brian Owens installing two cars at St. Bernardos for Thyssen,

Tim Narowitz and Matt Harden at Randall Park Apartments doing a one-car mod for Thyssen,

Jim Ehrbar and Marc Carollo at St. Augustine on Detroit doing a six-stop mod for Gable,

Scott Hicks and Tino Chaibai at Monticello Middle School installing one car for Gable and,

Ed Gimmel and Dave Ford replacing travel cables at 1 Cleveland Center for Schindler.

As of this writing the bench is clear.
Until next month…

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.
Don
Dknapik@windstream.net

May 2019 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and Sisters:

With the start of the Spring semester, I began my first NEIEP teaching experience with RC 600, solid state electronics. When I took this as a distance learning class as the brand new apprenticeship program was being rolled out across the International, I considered it the single most challenging course in the curriculum.

The unit material is dense and if you have a marginal grasp on electronics to begin with, the gauntlet is laid down. I struggled through and passed the unit tests and final by the barest of margins. After all, seventy equals one hundred. When it came time to study for the mechanics test, I was bound and determined to not struggle through and be satisfied with “just good enough.” I studied the material until I could almost recite it forward and back and when it came time for the test I was prepared.

Now that I’m teaching it, I find myself excited to sit down and review the material at home and then present it in class.

When doing the review of Ohm’s Law, I had each of the apprentices Ohm themselves out and figure how many amps they would draw when exposed to 120 volts. Some were higher than others and some barely registered but, the experience tried to drive home the need for electrical safety. It only takes a tiny amperage to stop a heart.

Recently an escalator repair team was reinstalling a bull gear. The team that removed the gear had to have the disconnect removed in order to have enough room to maneuver the gear out. A licensed electrical contractor did the removal. When it came time to reinstall the disconnect, the contractor came out and found that there was voltage on the taped up leads.

After many phone calls and investigation it was found that the two escalators, both the up and the down, were fed by the same breaker in the vault which was LOTO during the removal. The customer, not wanting both his units out of service, had the breaker put back in to run the other unit.

There is a lot wrong with this scenario. Had things gone a bit differently, I’d be writing an obituary for a good friend and long time colleague, one of my students or both. The large takeaway is very simple, no matter what you are doing, take nothing for granted.

Work smart…

Work safe…

and, most importantly, SLOW DOWN for safety.

Where are they working?

John Goggin and Ed Gimmel changing sheave liners at North Point Office for Schindler,

Bob Rawdon and Dion Yatsko at 145 Rich Street in Columbus doing a mod for Gable,

Todd Miner and Joe Wallace from Local 93 (Nashville) doing training for Thyssen at Tri-C Westshore,

Kenny Jung and Jason Tischler at St. Luke’s Manor repairing water damage for Schindler,

Ed Gimmel and Brian Chambers doing full load tests at Progressive Field for Schindler,

Tom Peska and Ernie Rodriguez unloading a truck at Holiday Inn Express in Madison for Schindler,

Bill Sellers heading to Pittsburgh to do a jack for Kone,

John Goggin and Tim Gibbons doing cable work at Saxon House for Schindler,

Mitch Klemp and Kyle Loza from Local 45 doing a mod at the VA for Gable,

Billy Ralph and Cody Watson from Local 31 installing two hydros at the Holiday Inn Madison for Schindler,

Scott Hicks and Tino Chiabia at Vista Springs in Independence installing two 2-stop hydros for Gable,

Jeff Lindell at Nationwide Insurance on Columbus finishing an escalator mod for Kone.
The Brothers and Sisters of Local 17 send their condolences to the families of Brother Jim Horvath as his widow passed away and Brother Tim Moennich whose sister-in-law passed way.

As of this writing the bench is clear.

Until next month,

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.
Don
DKnapik@windstream.net

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, iueclocal17.org 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.

Don
Dknapik@windstream.net