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.

WELCOME BACK

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.

ISSUE 2 AND BEYOND

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

December ’11 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and sisters:

The annual Children’s Christmas party will be held Saturday, December 3rd at the hall located at 3250 Euclid Avenue.  The party starts at 1pm and mothers are asked to bring baked goods.  Beverages will be provided.  If you have any questions, please contact Mike Hogan at mhogan67@yahoo.com.

The Cleveland Building and Construction Trades as well as Local 17 are supporting our brothers and sisters of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 880 in their labor dispute with Rite Aid.  While Rite Aid’s profits are at record levels, they refuse to bargain in good faith with the UFCW on a contract that retains the current level of benefits coverage.  As a response the North Shore Federation of Labor is boycotting Rite Aid and asking that all members of the building trades move their prescriptions to another UFCW represented pharmacy.  If you want information on the state of the boycott and which pharmacies are union represented then go to ufcwlocal880.org.

There were three fatalities reported at the October meeting.  The first was from Local 24, Birmingham, Alabama the second happened in New York City, Local 1, and the third was from Local 96, Ottawa, Canada.   Ours is a tough and unforgiving trade.  There are many ways to die and even more ways to become disabled.  This has to serve as a reminder to never take safety for granted because as soon as you do we may be draping the charter and holding a moment of silence at the next meeting for you.  Safety is no accident.

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.

Local 17 won an arbitration hearing with Schindler on their giving away the flooring work at the new University Hospital Cancer Center.  This was Article IV work and because the company did not follow the contract they had to pay $2000 to the Local’s Contingency Fund.  This is in addition to the money paid on the same job for allowing another trade to block cable holes.  Know what is covered by Article IV of the contract and be sure the companies are not giving it away.  Your unemployed union brothers are counting on you.

 

Where are they working?

Kevin Thomas and Bill Dudas at Breckenridge Village installing a three-stop hydraulic for Thyssen,

Jeff Webber and Tom Gombar at JC Penny Strongsville doing escalator clean downs for Kone,

Paul Scheutzow doing stand by at the Juvenile Justice Center for Kone,

Matt Weingart and Chris DeJesus working at the Rockwell Building for Schindler,

Jason Faber and Joe Broz, Jr. cabling at Bridgeview for Thyssen,

Ken Bowles and Jason Sohayda doing a modernization at Kaiser for Otis,

Bernie Sickle and Steve Kemp doing a jack at UH for Schindler,

John Brunner and Taurus Ogletree doing a modernization at Euclid Commodore for Schindler,

Local 17 sends condolences to brothers Jim, John and Tom Goggin on the passing of their father and grandfather respectively in early October.  The Local also send condolences to Brother Harold Norsic on the passing of his mother and Brother John Sapochak who lost his father-in-law.

As of this writing there are 22 mechanics out of work.

 

Till next month,

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety,

 

Don

Dknapik@windstream.net

 

November ’11 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and sisters:

 

There is a lot going on.  So let’s get into it…

In a few days we will be going to the ballot box and deciding the future of public-sector unionization and to a greater extent the future of organized labor in Ohio.  The effort of the GOP lead executive office and statehouse to turn our once great state into a right-to-work-for-less state is a slap in the face to every public and private employee unionized or not. While I try to be as fair as possible to each side in an argument, it is difficult to understand the motivations of the state leaders to create a place where the standard of living would free fall to the lowest level it can achieve.

Senate Bill 5, from the beginning, was an effort to legislate what government could not negotiate.  As we all know, there are two signatures on every contract and if a governmental entity did not and could not agree with an item on a contract they had the perfect right to walk away from the table.  To limit the scope of contract negotiations screams of the type of extreme socialism that conservatives try to leverage against organized labor.

A NO vote on Issue 2, the initiative signed onto by almost 1.3 million Ohioans, would restore the balance to the contract process and let it play out where it is supposed to… at the negotiating table.

At the September meeting our convention delegates (Dennis Dixon, John Driscoll, Jr. and Brian McTaggart) lead by Business Agent Tim Moennich gave a comprehensive report on their activities at the 30th General Convention and discussed in detail the resolutions that came out of their committees.  Tim worked on the health committee, John on the pension, Brian sat on the resolutions and Denny heard trials and appeals.  If you wanted to know the details, you should have been at the meeting.  The meetings leading up to the contact in July are going to be very important for everyone who cares about their job.  Take an interest and be active.

Over the years Local 17 has been viewed as a bit of a renegade because of our vocal opposition to the leadership on several issues.  In spite of this perception Tim made a bid for an International vice president position.  Although he fell short in the final balloting, his efforts and the efforts of our delegates cleared these misperceptions and raised the overall profile of Local 17 in the eyes of the leadership and delegates from around North America.

Their work and the work of every other delegate should be applauded by all.

Also at the September meeting was the first reading of a proposed by-law change to increase the Special Meetings fine from $15 to $20.

Keep in mind that the November 18th, December 9th and January 13th meetings are MANDATORY.

Congratulations to the following newly minted mechanics: Joseph Broz, 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.

Because there will be only seven apprentices in the program for next year, Local 17 will be using distance learning for the first time.  The apprentices in the program will meet with Jerry Reitz once a month at the school and otherwise will be responsible for their own work.  This is the first time Local 17 will be using distance learning for the apprenticeship program.

As of this writing there are 24 mechanics and one apprentice out of work.

 

Till next month,

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.

 

Don

Dknapik@windstream.net

 

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.”

Voltaire

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.

-30-

October ’11 Article for the Constructor

Brothers and sisters,

 

As I write this at the beginning of September, the delegates of the 30th General Convention are gathered in Orlando working on the framework for improvements to the International and setting the table for the contract negotiations which will surely be starting soon.  These delegates have a difficult job to balance the long term interests of the International with the interests of the locals they represent and the unique economic situation each has at home.

Presently in Cleveland we are hovering at a membership of about 240 with 24 members on the bench.  While 24 does not sound like a large number to locals like New York, Boston, Chicago or LA it represents ten percent of our membership and many of them qualify for dues relief because of the length of their unemployment.  Many of these long-term unemployed have chosen to withdraw and find another career path.

The three large projects (Horseshoe Casino, Medical Mart and Flats East Bank) each represent opportunities for members to return to the trade and the fourth project, the permanent casino on Collision Bend, adds another chance to clear the bench.  Because of different factors it is unlikely that these projects will have the desired bench clearing effects.  It is also unlikely that new routes will be added by any of the NEBA companies at least during the rest of this contract.

This is the microcosm that the International finds itself in the months leading up to the contract.

As a result of my current situation highlighted in last month’s article, I have had the opportunity to speak with people in a number of different industries.  They are, almost to a man, positive about their long term outlook and have more work than they know what to do with.  So this begs the question:  what are the NEBA companies doing wrong?

Part of the answer is the high vacancy rate in commercial real estate where property owners are reluctant to do anything when their buildings are only half occupied at best.  The counter to that argument is that when the building is vacant it is the best time to reimagine the possibilities and position it for the eventual rebound.  The one bright spot is that apartment buildings have high occupancy rates while homes are being foreclosed.  People have to live somewhere.  NEBA companies can capitalize on these trends by pushing modernizations and the “greening” of buildings with new technologies that decrease overall elevator operating costs and increase uptime.

The best time for sales is when the economy is down.  The salesman’s presence in front of the customer, giving them solutions to their needs builds the necessary rapport that allows the customer to make the leap to improving their situation.  Maybe the NEBA companies need to hire better salesmen?

I wish I had answers to the questions that are swirling around the trade.  Unfortunately, even in my very modest position in the local, do not have the insight into the deepening complexities as contract time approaches.  The one thing that I do know is that the leadership gathered in Orlando represents the best minds of the trade and where several hundred good minds are gathered great things can arise.

I am truly confident that the International will come out stronger from this convention than when it went in.

Even though this is October, I hope that everyone took an opportunity to do two things this past month; remember the 2995 that died on September 11th and say thank you to someone that has been selflessly serving in the military.  I know several members have family serving and I want to say thank you to all of them and let them know that everyone at home prays for their safe return.

 

Till next month…

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.

 

Don

dknapik@windstream.net

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.

September ’11 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and sisters:

I want to start off by thanking all the men and women of our armed forces serving here and in harms way for the sacrifices they make every day so we can enjoy the peace this land has to offer.

Remember  them every September.

I was reading General President Dana Brigham’s July Constructor article and felt the need to comment.   His article was the sharpest and most succinct summary of the challenges the International as a whole will be facing in the coming year as this contract with NEBA draws to a close.  The contract negotiations are out of the direct control of the rank and file and the Labor Committee will be guided by the resolutions submitted by the members to craft the best contract possible.  What is under our individual control is how we prepare and react to the challenges we face daily and those looming on the horizon.

Back in January, I never thought that I would be one of the brothers I report on every month as being out of work.  Since then, my life has taken some very strange twists and turns.

Things have been austere here at home as the weekly unemployment check is perhaps a quarter of my former gross.  Consequently I am without a cell phone, long distance, the life insurance policy was surrendered for cash value and groceries are cut way back.  I gave up golf as a luxury and only attended this year’s outing and Retiree’s Dinner because it is part of my job as the correspondent to cover these events.

My wife had saved enough so buying a home was, for the first time in our married lives, more than a pipe dream.  Now that down payment money is going to pay the bills that still roll in.  By the time this is in print, my 26 weeks of state benefits will be exhausted and, hopefully, Federal Extended Benefits will have kicked in to help out and my 1973 MGB will be sold to keep paying the bills.

But everything has not been doom and gloom.  I reconnected with an old friend who is going through a tough time at home and we have leaned on each other as our personal dramas play out to their conclusions.  I’ve been walking the dog through the snow and heat almost every day and have rediscovered my neighbors.

I have been writing the articles here and in the Cleveland Citizen commenting and reporting on the growing anti-unionism at the state level in Ohio and across the country.  I extended that into a blog at through-the-mill.com where I comment from time to time about events as I see them and also developed the website for Local 17.

Since April of 2010 I have been writing an article for NEIEPs Lift Magazine.  After my layoff, I completed my article and have been assisting Jon Henson and Maggie Cleveland to put the finishing touches on an issue that everyone involved can be proud to say represents the best of NEIEP and the trade.  Through NEIEP I have been in contact with the elevator equivalent of SEAL Team Six, the best of the best in our trade, and have a whole new perspective on the direction it is moving and challenges we will all face.

Could I have done all this and still been employed full-time?  Yes, but the one thing this time off has given me is perspective on my old job and where the skills I’ve accrued over the past twelve years can take me.  Do I want to get back to work?  Don’t be foolish, everyone on the bench wants to get back into the game.  Whenever it is I return and in whatever capacity it may be, the words of English poet William Ernest Henley’s immortal poem Invitus ring in my ears:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

 

Where are they working?

Ken Lenoard and Dave Burke doing a tear out at Northpoint for Edmonds,

Neil Beechuck and Bill Dudas at the VA Parma installing two holeless hydraulics for Thyssen,

Jason Faber and Joe Broz, Jr. at Coppertree doing a door mod for Thyssen,

Scott Hicks and Jn Rogers installing three 400As at the Cleveland Clinic for Schindler,

Gerard Szemerkovsky and Tony Karovich installing an elevator at the Huron Road health Center for Otis,

Jason Fredrick and Tony Kuhn doing valve work at Morgan Pump for Thyssen,

Mike Miller and Jason Sohayda installing elevators at the Cleveland Clinic Avon for Otis,

Roy Skinner, Jr. and Tom Peska doing service work for Edmonds,

Todd Ross and Terry Keating doing valve work at Philips Medical building for Kone,

Drew Williams and Jim Ehrbar doing six-car mod at Harbor Crest for Edmonds,

Matt Pinchot and Scott Villanueva doing a three-car mod at BB parking garage for Otis,

Craig Nolty and Anthony Young doing hatch cleaning at Regency Towers for Kone,

John Goggin and Ed Gimmel doing full-loads at the Rose Building for Schindler,

Gary Thompson and Jim Archer doing a mod at the W. O. Walker Building for Schindler,

Dave Brunner, Mark Byram, Dave Lehoten and Brian Owens at the casino doing a tear out for Schindler.

Condolences

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.

 

Till next month…

Work safe, work smart and slow down for safety.

 

Don

dknapik@windstream.net

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

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.

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