August ’19 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and Sisters,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


July 2019 Labor-Citizen

Brothers and Sisters:

The work situation of Cleveland is good for all the trades and IUEC Local 17 is no exception.  All the companies have expressed they have a lot of work on the books and may be adding probationaries after posting the results for the apprenticeship classes which closed out the first week of June.  As of this writing the final scores have not been posted but should be shortly.

The current work situation is not anomalous to Cleveland.  All Locals in the Tri-State area are reporting empty benches and the need for probationaries to come into the trade.  There are two Local Representative (LR) routes available in Midland and Abeline, Texas through Thyssen as well as an independent company in Local 28 (Omaha, Nebraska).  If you are interested in working in those areas, contact Business Manager John Driscoll, Jr. at or call the hall at 216-431-8088.

IUEC Local 17 NEIEP coordinator Jeff Burns is getting ready to retire and his replacement Ed Christensen, Jr. was in Cleveland recently to drop off the Spring semester finals.  Christensen is the nephew of IUEC General President Frank Christensen and son of Regional Director Ed Christensen, Sr.

All apprentices must still turn in their OJT forms to the Local in a timely manner or risk being called in front of the committee to answer why they have not complied with their obligation.  

Apprentice raises go into effect September 1 assuming the apprentice has passed at least two semesters of school.  Good luck to all those looking to move ahead in the best trade in the trades.

With all the turmoil roiling around the pension crisis, the Senate committee tasked with formulating a solution did not meet its deadline and the committee was dissolved.  The Butch Lewis Act is now designated as HR 397 and has been referred to the Committee on Education and Labor.  According to IUEC pension actuary Joe LoCicero, any reforms coming from future proposals will not have an adverse effect of the IUEC plan.  Consequently, the Trustees of the Plan have given all active members a raise on all hours accumulated prior to July 1, 2015 and all hours worked after July 1, 2019.  This will add a significant amount to future retirees pension checks.

If you are planning on retiring, please contact the benefits office for what your plan will look like on that day when your last paycheck has to last you a lifetime.

The IUEC offers members and their family confidential counseling services for legal, financial and mental health issues like depression, marriage counseling, stress management, anxiety, conflict management, weight management and communication.  The service is free and offered through Beacon Health Options.  For more information call 1-800-331-4824 or go online to

The Brothers and Sisters of IUEC Local 17 send their condolences to the family of Brother Zach Lanum who passed away June 8.

As of this writing the bench is clear.

July 2019 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and Sisters:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As of this writing the bench is empty.

Until next month,

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.


June 2019 Labor-Citizen

Brothers and Sisters:
As this issues goes to press the apprentices of IUEC Local 17 will be completing their end of year finals for the current classes. Good luck to all those moving forward in their education in the best trade in the trades.

On May 15, Brother Tim Narowitz taught a class in material handling equipment certification to about a dozen members of the Local. The training was to get them certified in fork lift and boom truck operation so they can operate the equipment on a job site and meet OSHA requirements. The members taking the class spent four hours in the classroom and four in the parking lot in the rear of the hall demonstrating their operational skills. This is another way to secure the work we claim through continuing education and certification.

A new welding class began on June 10. This is another in the line of continuing education offerings through the National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP). While other Locals have a trailer decked out in welding equipment come to a location, Local 17 is fortunate to be able to go the world headquarters of Lincoln Electric in Euclid for their training by Lincoln instructors. This gives the apprentices and journeymen a foot up when attempting to complete their 3G and 4G certifications. The class runs for two weeks, four hours a night for a total of 40 instructional hours.

If you know of someone looking to get into the elevator constructors, check out the NEIEP website,, for information on the recruitment in Cincinnati (Local 11) and Columbus (Local 37). The Cincinnati recruitment starts September 4and the Columbus will be closing soon.

The news out of the State House in Columbus on the Elevator Licensing Bill is encouraging. The bill, which made it out of committee prior to the end of the previous session, did not make it to the floor for a vote before the end of the session. Since it was taken up by the legislature earlier in the session, it gives the bill which would outline requirements for licensing of all elevator constructors in the State a better opportunity for passage.

On May 17, IUEC Local 17 had its annual Retirees Dinner at Harry’s Steak House in Independence. Among the almost 100 attendees were Brothers Ray Bowles, Mark Carollo, Ken Eaton, Robin Eaton and Scott Runyon who all claimed their Gold Cards and Brother Bob Hess walked out with the retirees watch. For photos of the event, go to

On June 1, Hickory Nut Golf Course hosted the IUEC Local 17 Golf Outing. The 60 active and retired members as well as their guests had a great time and the weather held out until the very end of the event. The low-gross winners were Jeff and Scott Ward with a seven-under 67. A large thank you goes out to Brothers Scott Hicks and Entertainment Chairman Zack Lanum for another great event.

The Brothers of Local 17 supported the Cleveland Building Trades picket of the new Menards store on Brookpark Road. The general contractor, McConnell Excavating, would not allow any of the signatory building contractors to bid on the job and brought in out of town non-union workers to do the job. In the elevator constructors case, they brought in Louisville, Kentucky-based Able Elevator to do the job at the Brookpark store as well as the new Avon location.

The May meeting saw a visit from IUEC Assistant Director of Organizing Dan Baumann who spoke about the Menards situation as well as the on going national efforts at organizing Oracle, Delaware and Richmond Elevator Companies. “These are major ongoing efforts to win over the workers as well as organize the companies” Baumann told the membership.

Former Local 17 organizer Jim Lowery was also there to tell the gathering that “because of the three-year effort to organize Gable Elevator and the lessons learned from that campaign, Local 17 is being used as a template across the International on how to run a successful campaign.”

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

June 2019 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and Sisters:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.

May 2019 Labor-Citizen

Brothers and Sisters:

Happy May Day!

The second set of RC 500 Practical Exams were administered over two days on April 24th and 25th. These exams count toward the Apprentices overall score on the Mechanics Exam and as new exams roll out will be even more important for Apprentices not even involved yet in the trade.

The IUEC recently banned the use of Leatherman-style uninsulated multi-tools after Otis mechanic Brother Paul DeChane of Local 71 (Miami, FL) was electrocuted while using one to crimp a connection on a door lock. These style tools are very common in the field and should be discontinued as soon as possible.

There are two continuing education classes planned for the coming months. The first is the forklift class being taught by Tim Narowitz at the Laborers Local 310 classroom located in the rear of the parking lot at 3250 Euclid Ave. This class will give you the basic tools needed to be able to unload a truck on an worksite. The second is the welding class which gives the student the opportunity to earn 3G or 4G welding certifications. This is a 40 hour commitment over the course of two weeks. The class is taught at the world headquarters of Lincoln Electric in Euclid, Ohio. If you are interested in this or any other continuing education classes, contact Business Manager John Driscoll Jr. at or call at 216-431-8088.

As with all of the continuing education offerings, everyone you take makes you a better Constructor and a more valuable employee. They also give you an edge when work slows down making you recession resistant.

There has been a series of vehicle break-ins at the school. The JATC is discussing moving the school to a different location but, for now everyone is encouraged to keep all valuables out of sight. As John said at the meeting, even a bit of loose change looks like a fortune to a homeless person.

IUEC Local 17 will hold the annual Local 17 Golf Outing at Hickory Nut Golf Course, 23601 Royalton Rd, Columbia Station on June 1st. The cost has yet to be announced but, it is always a well attended and fun event.

As of this writing the bench is clear.