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.

-30-

 

August ’11 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and sisters:

The Mechanics Review Class is now in full swing.  Preparing those apprentices sitting for the test is Rick Myers.  Just a word to those attending… the apprenticeship program and the test are not easy and are not meant to be easy.  However you approach the test and whatever your motivations are going into the test keep two things in mind.

First, the apprenticeship program and the contract that created it are amorphous.  The program we have today is not the program we may have at the start of the next contract.

Second, it is the ONLY unbiased appraisal of your knowledge of the elevator trade you will ever have.  There are too many people who survive by making their boss think they are better than they are to the detriment of their company, customers, out of work union brothers and the reputation of the union movement and the elevator trade.  If you cannot read a straight line, construction print or even a tape measure you’d better learn very fast or have an outstanding line of BS.  Bosses are smarter than you think and will eventually catch on.

The Local 17 softball team will compete in the annual Cleveland Building Trades tournament Labor Day weekend.  The tournament will be held at James Day Park immediately adjacent to the Tri-C West campus.  Look to iueclocal17.org for updated dates and times.

There are nine brothers taking part in the welding class offered through the local and taught at Lincoln Electric.  This class leads to a 3G and 4G welding certification.

Local 17 recently won a $2000 grievance from Schindler Elevator for violations of Article IV work at the UH Seidman Cancer Center.  The violations were for Schindler allowing another contractor to install flooring in the cars prior to the final acceptance.  This is in addition to the fine already paid on that job for having another contractor install machine beams and cable holes prior to pouring the machine room floors.  Gentleman, this is our work.  DO NOT give it up!

As many of you know, on May 18 KONE purchased local independent Response Elevator for an undisclosed sum.  The five field employees were told after a monthly safety meeting about the sale and are currently integrating into KONE’s Cleveland operation.

The By-laws Committee received numerous ideas for resolutions to the upcoming International Convention.  When everything was reviewed, there were four resolutions that the Local submitted to the International for consideration.  These will be combined with the resolutions of the other locals and debated on the floor to formulate the basis for the upcoming contract negotiations.  Thank you to all who submitted a resolution.

Where are they working?

Mike Miller and Nick Meyer at Huron Community Health Center installing two cars for Otis,

Bob Garman and Kevin Thomas doing a modernization at Shaker Court Condos for Thyssen,

DJ Spring and Joe Simcic installing two hydraulics at Cleveland Clinic Data Center for Otis,

John Logue, Jim Thompson, Jonathon Koch and Brian Semanko doing a mod at Key Tower for Otis,

Jeff Lindell and Anthony Young doing escalator work at the Elyria JC Penny’s for Kone,

Shawn Yatsko and Ron Wittwage doing a mod at Lakewood Professional Building for Schindler,

Bill Sellers and Jason Costa at Ashtabula County Medical Building doing a fire service layover for Schindler,

Dave Brunner and Mark Byram working in Syracuse, New York installing escalators for Schindler,

Neil Beechuk and Bill Dudas at Milkovich School installing a two-stop hydraulic for Thyssen,

Ken Hasek and Jeff Ward at 200 Public Square doing full-loads for Otis.

Condolences

The most sincere condolences go to the family of retired Brother Bob Trapp.  He was 91.

As of this writing there are 28 mechanics and three apprentices on the bench.

Till next month…

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.

Don

dknapik@windstream.net

July ’11 Cleveland Citizen

I just want to take a column inch and on behalf of all the brothers and sisters of the IUEC Internationally and here at Local 17 send congratulations to the Cleveland Citizen on its 120 years of being the voice of organized labor.  It can be a lonely and thankless job putting together a publication of any frequency and the staff of the Citizen deserves the accolades of everyone in the trades for the fine and selfless work they do to bring us the news that affects us every month.

Thank you.

I hope that everyone reading this will still be in the best of spirits from their long July Fourth holiday weekend.

There were 50 retired and active brothers at the Local 17 Annual Golf Outing held again this year at Mallard Creek in Columbia Station.  The winning team in the two-man scramble was Scott Hicks and his unnamed partner.  They shot a 5-under par 67 for the day.  In the consolation round, the team of Rob Hansen and Mike Wickham lagged a long-distance putt to within three feet of the hole to win a putt-off for second place.  For complete photo coverage of the event, go to iueclocal17.org and click on the Galleries page.

Rick Myers will be teaching the Mechanics Review Class starting on July 25th.  The classes will meet every Monday for six weeks.  The Mechanics Exam will be at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday September 14, 2011 at 2435 Superior Avenue.  All eligible apprentices must sign up by July 8th.  Please contact Business Agent Tim Moennich at 216-431-8088 or TMoennich@iueclocal17.org for more information.

There is a signup sheet for a scaffolding class available at the hall.  The class will be scheduled as soon as there are enough participants.  If you are interested, please contact Tim as soon as possible.

SB 5 Update

As you all know, Senate Bill 5 is the bill passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor John Kasich severely restricting the collective bargaining rights of public-sector employees.  It appears as though the group behind the petition drive to repeal SB5 has topped their minimum amount of signatures required to place the initiative on the ballot.

On June 17th, We Are Ohio, a bipartisan coalition of interested groups, reported they had 714,137 signatures on petitions to put the repeal of Senate Bill 5 on the November ballot.  This is far over the 231,149 minimum to have the issue put to voters.  There is also a requirement that 44 of the 88 Ohio counties be represented by the petition drive.  The deadline for submitting the petition and signatures was June 30th.

When United States Senator Sherrod Brown signed the petition, he said “our economy will be strong if the middle class is strong.”  He went on to say that “jobs would be lost and communities destroyed unless we repeal SB5.”

At the May union meeting, we had several brothers come forward to sign the repeal petition.  By signing the petition and standing up for the rights of our public-sector brothers and sisters, we stand with those that fell before us for the privilege of being able to make a livable wage, to have some say over our working conditions and to be able to enjoy a little something called a weekend.

There will undoubtedly be a large effort to flood the airwaves with misleading ads paid for by special interest dollars.  DO NOT BE FOOLED!  Learn as much as you can about the issue so that when your friends and neighbors ask, you can speak intelligently about the ramifications if the repeal fails.  More importantly: stand with those that stand by you!

AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL!

And while we’re talking about the governor… as reported last month the budget proposed by Kasich would have seen the raising of the prevailing wage thresholds from the present $87,000 to $5 million.  Critics of the plan claimed that it would exclude 95% of the governmentally funded construction projects while the Associated Builders and Contractors, a non-union lobbying group, claimed it would save money.  Arguing against the measure, officials at The Ohio State University said the plan would likely lead to shady dealings like bid auctions.

Because of the efforts of organized labor, enough Republicans came over to amend the threshold to $125,000 this year and $250,000 on July 1, 2013.  Thank you to everyone who contacted their state representatives.

Rock Gaming, the developers of the Horseshoe Casino going into the old Higbee’s Building, had to wrestle with the governor about the meaning, intent and verbiage of the Constitutional amendment passed in 2009 allowing casino gambling at four locations in Ohio.  Earlier in the year, the governor commented that he thought the state of Ohio should be getting a bigger cut of the action at the casino and he would use this time while the state still had leverage to squeeze more out of the developer.  As a consequence, Rock Gaming locked up the site until an agreement could be reached on its future.   This essentially put 2000 skilled tradesmen out of work until Little Caesar could be rendered upon.  Thankfully, the two sides came to an agreement and work is restarting at the sites here in Cleveland and Cincinnati.

So, to recap, here is a partial list of groups Little Caesar has succeeded in angering in only six short months:  firemen, policemen, paramedics, teachers, anyone represented by AFSME and its affiliated units, AFL-CIO on the local, state and federal levels, the union members affiliated with the AFL-CIO and its member unions, Dan Gilbert, MGM Grand, the companies that were going to invest over $1 billion before he killed the high-speed rail initiative…. And the list keeps getting longer by the week.

All I have to say is Remember in November.

Condolences

The most sincere condolences go to the family of retired Brother Bob Trapp.  He was 91.

As of this writing there are 28 mechanics and three apprentices on the bench.

July ’11 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and sisters:

There is a lot going on. So, let’s get started….

In case you have not heard, the local’s website, iueclocal17.org, is up and running! There is a wealth of information available including links to union and signatory contractor websites, a photo gallery of past events and information on upcoming events. It is designed to be a user friendly way of keeping the local in touch with important union news from Cleveland and beyond. Please take a few minutes and check it out.

By the time you read this in July, the Mechanics Review classes will be in full swing to prepare the 23 eligible apprentices for September’s Mechanics Test. Whatever your thoughts are on taking the test, please keep in mind that everything can, and often does, turn on a dime in the ever evolving world of the apprenticeship program. When it was first initiated, the program seemed to be thrown together in a hodge-podge manner and the rules and requirements were literally changing on a weekly basis. The reason was to have NEIEP nationally recognized as the official training course for the elevator trade. It took almost two years for the changes to shake out and the program to have a consistent set of rules from one year to the next.

As a result of the wording in the contract, locals around the country have become flooded with mechanics and have apprentices shaking in their boots about their future after the test. In some instances, the day an apprentice takes out his card has become his last in the business. So what message does this send? Do you feel you have to be in fear for your job?

Fear is the emotional manifestation of evil. It is designed to break you down and make you malleable to those ingraining the fear, extinguishing the light that burns inside everyone.

If you are afraid of being a light to those around you… then leave. This business is not for the thin skinned. The truly tough, the people that truly last, in this or any business, are the ones that are fearless in the face of injustice and stand tall when all others around them bow down in subjugation.

While standing up makes you a target of fear mongers, realize that you are not alone. As our brothers in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) say “an injury to one is an injury to all.” When we all stand together, we all stand proud. We all are one local and International. We are the power of one backed by millions across the globe. United as one brother and sisterhood across all delineations fear mongers hope to divide us.

We are Union.

Rick Maron’s Uptown project at East 115th and Euclid is hitting some snags. The Cleveland Building Trades are planning on setting up several picket lines at the job. Gable is still contracted to install the elevators. While IUEC Local 17 does not have plans to set up our own lines at this time, we will support those of the other trades.

Recently, there has been a rash of members from all over the state not properly reporting in when traveling out of their jurisdiction. Several trials took place to punish these wayfarers. If you are sent out of town, or into an area that you think might belong to another local, call the BA and let them know where you are. It could save you a fine of several thousand dollars.

Condolences
The local sends its condolences to Brother Mario Malizia whose father and mother both passed away in April. The local also extends its condolences to the family of Carl Klokley who passed away May 10.

At this writing there are 29 mechanics and three apprentices off.

‘till next month,
Work smart, work safe and slowdown for safety.

Don

June ’11 Cleveland Citizen

Due to the strong response to the previous welding class put on by NEIEP, a second class has been announced.  The course runs for 40 hours and will lead to a 3G and 4G certification. Classes run from June 13th through the 17th and June 20th through the 24th from 5:15 to 9:15.  Any IUEC Local 17 member interested in participating must deposit a $500 check to guarantee attendance.  If you are interested, then please contact Business Agent Tim Moennich.

NEIEP is offering an online training and licensing course called “Rigging and Signalperson.”  The course takes three to four hours to complete online.  When the student takes the exam they must score at least 70 percent.  After successfully passing the online exam, a written and participation exam will be given by the NEIEP area coordinator.  The student must pass the written test with an 80 percent and a 100 percent on the hand signals.  The rigging and signal persons card is good for three years.

As predicted here and in the labor press from around the country, Governor Kasich is setting his sights on the private sector unions through the prevailing wage laws that keep Ohio from becoming another Right-to-Work-for-Less state.  Currently, any project using government money over $78,000 must abide by the prevailing wage laws.  This keeps all except the smallest of projects paying union wages.  The governor wants to raise this floor to $5 million, functionally exempting all except the largest projects from prevailing wage.

Many years ago, those far wiser than anyone currently in the administration, realized that the building trades slogan of “value on display everyday” means what it says:  union labor does the job right the first time so it doesn’t have to be redone. The prevailing wage law was enacted to maintain quality workmanship, strengthen local economies through construction work and prevent low wage, low skilled workers from undercutting the standard of living in our state.  For the sake of a few dollars now, the conservatives are throwing the dice with our money hoping that under skilled labor will not have to have their work redone by professionals.

Here is another tidbit… where prevailing wage laws have been repealed; overall wages have declined by 15 percent.  Can you take a 15 percent cut in pay?

Call your state senator and tell them to remove the prevailing wage laws from the budget and let it stand on its own.

While you’re on the phone, remind them that if they voted for SB 5, they really angered the wrong people… teachers, police, firefighters and the vast public and private-sector union members who will remember in November.

Everyone needs to take the time to do two things very soon, register to vote and sign a petition for the repeal of SB5.  Tim has petitions at the hall but you must sign one specifically for your county.  Please get there as soon as possible to get the repeal on the ballot.

In case you have not heard, the local’s website, iueclocal17.org, is up and running!  There is a wealth of information available including links to union and signatory contractor websites, a photo gallery of past events and information on upcoming events.  It is designed to be a user friendly way of keeping the local in touch with important union news from Cleveland and beyond.  Please take a few minutes and check it out.

All members will be receiving a letter from the local about American Income Life Insurance.  AIL is a union insurance company that offers a wide range of insurance products specifically designed for union members.  Along with the letter will be a response card to have an AIL representative contact you about their services.  You will also receive a packet of information covering their services and a no obligation consultation with one of their representatives.  This is a valuable opportunity to help secure the financial future of you and your family.

Where are they working?

Jeff Lindell and Anthony Young at the Browns Stadium doing escalator repair work for Kone,

Mike Miller and nick Meyer at the Cleveland Clinic Avon installing five hydros for Otis,

John Brunner and Taurus Ogletree at CSU installing a four-stop hydro for Schindler,

Bob Garman, Kevin Thomas and Joe Broz Jr. at Quicken Loans Arena cabling for Thyssen,

Mark Byram and Dave Lehotan doing cab work at Rainbow Apartments for Schindler,

Dave Brunner at Scott Hicks at the Cleveland Clinic installing three 4-stop hydros for Schindler,

Todd Kemp and Scott Erison installing a two-stop freight at VA Wade Park for Edmonds,

John Goggin, Gene Liss and Jason Costa cabling at Ohio Savings Plaza for Schindler,

Neil Beechuk and Bill Dudas installing a two-stop hydro at Midtown Tech for Thyssen.

June ’11 Elevator Constructor Article

Brothers and sisters:

When I was a helper, I had a mechanic ask me if I was crazy after a heated exchange with another mechanic.  I responded that crazy was a medical diagnosis that we were not qualified to make.  It was meant to diffuse his caution but it supports the tenuous line invisibly walked by ourselves and those around us.

There is no doubt that the constant and increased monitoring by the companies of the every move of their employees through GPS and other means puts additional stress on an already stressful job.  What quality of service can you give to a paying customer during your six minute maintenance visit?  If my phone is ringing every forty minutes to check on my location, how much am I really able to get done?  If my boss has me under the gun to get a job in, what level of  craftsmanship can the contractor expect?

The added relationship distractions of our spouse, co-workers, children, adult parents, siblings and neighbors can feel like chains weighing us down.

Then we start second guessing ourselves.  Did I really tighten that adjustment?  Was that the right parameter?  Where are all my jumpers?  Did I do the right thing with my kids or my spouse?  Why did I yell at my neighbor for no good reason?  Is it really worth going on?

When someone in trouble does decide to step into the void, those left behind are fraught with questions that no one on this plane can answer.  All we as outsiders can do is offer support to the survivors.

This brings me to a serious point brought up at the April union meeting.  If you or someone you know is troubled or seems to show signs of being troubled, do not just walk away.  Screw GPS and tasking, turn off your phone and take the time to truly listen to what your coworker is saying.  They may be reaching out to you as a last handhold before the abyss.

We make a difference in our daily work.  That difference cannot always be measured in profit or the number of callbacks we take.  Sometimes the measure is in how we treat each other.  There have been many times I spent an extra half hour in the coffee shop or took a long lunch to listen when a coworker was troubled and that time was paid back to me when I needed it.

The point is, take the time now.  Take the time now to praise someone for a job well done.  Take the time now to constructively correct someone when needed.  Take the time now to let your loved ones know how much you care.  Take the time now to ask for forgiveness or extend understanding.  Take the time now because you do not know how much you will have.

The International offers mental health services through the National Elevator Industry Benefits Plan.  If you are having a hard time coping with a situation, please, please, please seek someone out and get help.

NEIEP is looking for contributors to Lift Magazine, its educational supplement available to all members.  The upcoming issue covers new elevator technology.  You do not need to be a professional quality writer to contribute, just having the desire to share your knowledge with others.  If you are interested in becoming part of the team of compensated Lift contributors, send your resume to Jon Henson at jhenson@neiep.org or call 508-699-2200 extension 6115.

Brother Jeff Ford’s brother Joe was recently promoted to Captain and is currently serving in Iraq.  Please keep him in your prayers.

The local sends its most sincere condolences to the families of Brother Ryan Faber who passed away on March 31st and retired Brother James Horvath who passed away on March 25th.

‘till next month,

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.

Don

dknapik@windstream.net

May ’11 Cleveland Citizen Article

I hope everyone had a happy May Day!  There’s a lot to talk about so let’s get going….

There are plans for another OSHA 10 and scaffolding class.  If you are interested, please contact Business Agent Tim Moennich for class dates and times.

NEIEP is looking for contributors to Lift Magazine, its educational supplement available to all members.  The upcoming issue covers new elevator technology.  You do not need to be a professional quality writer to contribute, just the desire to share your knowledge with others.  If you are interested in becoming part of the team of compensated Lift contributors, send your resume to Jon Henson at jhenson@neiep.org or call 508-699-2200 extension 6115.

The Project Labor Agreements for the casino have been completed.  While all the details are not in at this time, it looks very good that the project will be moving forward shortly.

There is currently an action with Marshall Samuels Accessibility and their split shop arrangement where one of their operations is union and their other location is a non-union shop.  MSA is a home accessibility company selling stair and wheel chair lifts, dumbwaiters and residential elevators.   If they become a signatory, then Local 17 will be picking up a couple of new members and a strong presence in a market the International is eager to penetrate.  This will also offer another company to employ Local 17 members.

At the April meeting, the membership voted to go ahead and purchase the URL iueclocal17.org and develop a website.  I am happy to report that the development has been moving briskly ahead and we should be live very soon.  The purpose of the site is to keep the members, retirees and their families informed on what is going on between meetings.  There is space for photo galleries of events like the Retiree’s Dinner held last April 15th, updates on JATC news, announcements and links to the International, union and local signatory company websites.  The hope is that it will be a go to resource for news and information as the convention is held in the late summer and the contract is up next year.

If anyone has content, announcements, births, weddings, deaths, pictures, or anything they would like to share with the rest of the local, please click on the web administrator link on the Contacts page and I will post it as soon as possible.

The local sends its most sincere condolences to the families of Brother Ryan Faber who passed away on March 31st and retired Brother James Horvath who passed away on March 25th.

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

Battle Fatigue

As I write these words in late April 2011, a group called We Are Ohio, labor unions from across the state and the Ohio Democratic Party are collecting signatures to repeal the union-busting Senate Bill 5 signed into law less than a month ago by Republican Governor John Kasich.  Their goal is to get over 230,000 signatures from all over the state to put a repeal of SB5 on the November ballot.

The governor has proven to be a wiley character and as hard to pin down as an eel on his support for the bill.  He talked about “giving local government the tools they need to make (financial) decisions” which on the surface we can all agree that that is not a bad thing.  When we work in our trade we occasionally use several special tools, except the ones he was talking about turned out to be a chainsaw to public-employees right to bargain and hamstringing pubic-sector unions by legislating what they could not get by negotiating.

There is a sound political theory behind what he is doing.  I call it the “Friedman Generalization and Corollary.”  Milton Friedman was a Nobel Prize winner in Economics and advisor to Ronald Reagan during his campaign and after the election on the Economic Policy Advisory Board.  In 1982 he and his wife Rose wrote a book titled Tyranny of the Status Quo.  In that book he did a study of current economic situations around the world and how they interconnected.  Early in the book he told a story about the election of a Premier in British Columbia and what he did not promise during the election and why.

Very briefly, here is the text from Friedman’s book:

“Any measure that affects a concentrated group—either favorably or unfavorably—tends to have effects on individual members of that group that are substantial, occur promptly, and are highly visible.  The effects of the same measure on the individual members of a diffuse group—again whether favorable or unfavorable—tend to be trivial, longer delayed and less visible.  Quick, concentrated reaction is the major source of the strength of special interest groups in a democracy – or for that matter any other kind of government.  It motivates politicians to make grandiose promises to such special interests before an election – and to postpone any measures adversely affecting special interest groups until after an election.”

“Had Premier Bennett spelled out his intention to cut personnel and funds before the election, he would have aroused immediate and vocal opposition from the special interest groups affected—and only lukewarm and far less vocal enthusiasm from the taxpayers in general.  By waiting until after the election to spell out his program, Premier Bennett could hope that the bad effects on the concentrated groups would dissipate before the next election while the good effects on a broad constituency would have time both to take effect and to be recognized as the result of the measure he took.”

This is the playbook Governor Kasich and his advisors are using to hijack Ohio and turn labor back a hundred years.

They executed the Generalization flawlessly; withholding their plans until after the election and then publicly springing the effort to cut public-sector bargaining rights only after the election.  This kept public unions from effectively organizing against them and for former Governor Strickland.  Now they are in a waiting mode until 230,000 signatures can be obtained to put the repeal on the ballot.

Over the next couple of months it is going to be very important that we pace ourselves to not become burned out by the effort to repeal SB5.  With the granting by the Supreme Court of person status to corporations with regard to political activities, you know that huge money will be in play because the next step is making Ohio a Right-to-Work-for-Less state.  It is also important to be prepared for the largest privately financed effort to beat back an issue ever marshaled by any special interest group anywhere in the history of politics.  Ever.

I have a more in depth analysis on my blog, Through the Mill (through-the-mill.com).  Click on the Analysis icon on the left and cursor down to the article titled “Ohio, Wisconsin and Why the Rush.”

Brothers and sisters,  keep focused.