August ’18 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and sisters:

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

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

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

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

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

Think about it.

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

Where are they working?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next month,

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.

August ’18 Labor-Citizen

Brothers and Sisters:
By the time you read this, the new school year will have started with Lucas Janke and Tim Narowitz teaching RC 500 on Monday and Tuesday respectively and Jerry Reitz teaching RC 200 on Wednesday and Thursday. You must have all 72 hours of instruction time completed in order to be eligible to pass the semester.

John Taylor is willing to do consecutive motor alignment classes for the 20 members who signed up. The class covers all aspects of the skill needed to keep machines in alignment.
If you were on of the mechanics who took the Solid State Motor Control class in 2016 and were wondering what happened to the credit for the class well, since NEIEP never sent out the final and its been almost a year and a half since the class, NEIEP says it’s been too long and they will not send out the finals.

The aptitude test for the Local 17 apprenticeship program will be held August 21-23 at the Hall located at 3250 Euclid Avenue. If you know someone applying for a position in the best trade in the trades, remind them to keep up on all deadlines in order to be eligible for a slot.

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

If you are not registered to vote, REGISTER and SHOW UP AT THE POLLS! Remember, if you do not vote, you lose your right to complain. Period.
This year more than ever highlights the phrase the Right used as a warning from 2008 to 2016 and rings even louder with every early morning Twitter feed: elections have consequences.

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

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

Elections have consequences.

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

Elections have consequences.

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

Elections, my friends, have consequences.

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

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

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

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

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

July ’18 Labor-Citizen

Brothers and sisters:

In the last three months (April, May and June) the IUEC has experienced three on the job fatalities. One mechanic was crushed by a hydraulic elevator, another was electrocuted while working in the overhead on a new installation and at this time there is no information on the third. Ours is a dangerous trade and those that make it to retirement will recount some close calls they had along the way. I’ve had a few close calls and a front row seat to more than my share of potential catastrophes. What I have learned is to be cautious around new equipment, especially that which I am unfamiliar, stop and evaluate the situation and do not be afraid to take your time when doing something new.

There is a good reason why our retired brothers and sisters became retired brothers and sisters. Some of it has to do with luck, some with self preservation and the balance to risk minimization for themselves and those around them. I have three mechanics I have worked with over the course of my career retire since April. All have taught me something about doing the job right and doing it safe. I hope to join them in retirement in ten years eleven months and 26 more days. Not that I’m counting.

For those looking to apply as an apprentice to the best trade in the trades, IUEC Local 17 will be accepting applications starting midnight July 16th. To apply, go to the National Elevator Industry Educational Program website,, click on “About” and then “Careers” and then the link for Local 17. In order to be placed on the list you must meet all the deadlines in the application process. Good luck!

For those already in the apprenticeship program, turn in your OJT forms.

There is still room available in the motor alignment class being taught by John Taylor this November. It is a 12 hour class covering all aspects of this very important skill. If you are interested in this or any other continuing education, contact Business Manager John Driscoll Jr., the hall at 216-431-8088 or email him at

The International is in the process of developing a new membership database that will allow it and the Local unions to manage all member information. Local 17 is starting to look at new computers that will be able to work with their system. Please take a few minutes to update your contact information with John.

The IUEC Local 17 Golf Outing will be August 6th at Pine Brook Golf Course, 11043 Durkee Rd., Grafton. The cost this year is $100 for golf, cart, food and prizes. If you have not already paid then get your money into Entertainment Chairman Mike Moennich or John at the hall ASAP.

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

July ’18 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and sisters:

I want to say something about safety. Some may agree with what I have to say, others may disagree but, that is where conversations about important topics start.

Here it goes…

Safety, as with all things important, begins with ownership. Let me explain.

Most of us who have watched the business change over the last twenty years remember when we as individual elevator constructors owned the work we did. We took personal responsibility for the execution of our construction, service or maintenance jobs and, regardless of the outcome, owned the result for the better or the worse. I have had the pleasure of working with numerous professionals during my career who did just that. I have also had the pleasure of working with individuals who shunted the blame for poor outcomes to others. Both taught me something about the constructor I wanted to become.

When I took on a maintenance route as a temporary mechanic waiting to take my test, I took a personal responsibility for the 96 units under my care. Clearing up the issues resulting in five to seven callbacks a day and making the elevators my customers depended on as invisible as possible was my top priority. I was successful to the point where once my route reached 178 units all but two were running, all the violations and testing I was responsible for were clear and up to date. Customer satisfaction went from three out of five to almost five out of five and I had two to three callbacks a week.

I owned my route. I owned my job. I took pride in my work.

Along the way though, there was a shift. The testing team disappeared, the one-man pressure test became the norm, route mechanics were pulled away from their routes and teamed up with a helper or second mechanic to do contract repair. Billable work was limited to the four corners of the work order and if you noticed another problem, well, if it’s not on the paperwork then look the other way. The phrase “it’s not on the work order” became both a weapon by supervisors and a defense for the constructor.

The result of this being the company took ownership away from the constructor. We became complacent and began to accept that it was always someone else problem. The maintenance guy will find it, the service team will fix it, did the salesman even look at the job? We did what was on the work order. Where do we go tomorrow?

What I’ve noticed is that once we started to lose the ownership of our work, it has become a lot easier to walk away from small issues that could become larger problems. So that door gib is a little shallow, the maintenance guy will fix it. The demarcation on the step is broke. There are 96 steps on this escalator. What are the chances a kids shoelace will get caught? That brush looks a little iffy. Well, maybe it will be good enough for another couple of months until I can get back here to replace it. It’s these small complacencies that allow us to die a small death everyday.

This attitude also extends to safety. Safety has become a morning slogan on a thread, a poster contest for your grade schooler, a bag full of stuff to take to a job, a threat of three days off or a piece of OSHA driven paper. All of this fulfills the company responsibility to provide a comprehensive safety program to their employees as well as defined disciplinary actions for non-compliance. Realistically, how many times have we seen the same videos in our monthly safety meetings? Enough to recite the script?

There has to be a fundamental change in the way we view safety and it cannot be top down, it has to be inside out. By this I mean, when you find a problem fix it. Once you have found an issue it becomes your responsibility to see it is remedied, do not pass the buck. Sometimes this will mean leaving critical units out of service. So what! If you discover a critical design flaw in a piece of equipment, take it up with the proper people. This might mean calling your company engineer directly. “But my boss will be mad!” So what! We work in an industry where everything is designed, manufactured, installed, maintained, repaired and operated by humans. This leaves a lot of room for error and no one can think of everything. If you do call the engineer, do not just complain, offer a solution.

Ultimately if you own your job, you own your safety.


The Brothers and Sisters of Local 17 send their condolences to the family of Brother Rick Bodnar who passed away February 27th.

As of this writing there are three mechanics and one apprentice on the bench.
Until next month,

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.


June ’18 Labor-Citizen

Brothers and sisters:

In the past two months the IUEC has lost two Brothers in work related accidents. The first was a Brother in Columbus who was working on the valve of a newer-style hydraulic elevator system with the tank in the pit. During disassembly of the valve, the car started down in an uncontrolled manner pinning him between the car and the tank. He was working with two other constructors who both were in the pit area at the time of the accident. The second accident was in Dallas where a mechanic was working on a traction car with the disconnect in the overhead and was electrocuted when pulling the mainline.

It goes without saying that working in the trades is dangerous. We deal with the possibility of life altering events of either our own making, chance or others on a daily basis. Please look out for one another. If you see another trade working in an unsafe manner or leaving a hazard for others, say something or better yet be an example of a safe craftsman. It can make all the difference in the world.

Organizing is still a major push by the International. In 2017 the IUEC organized 287 members and there were 1824 new hires industry wide. This means that a little over 13 percent of the new members brought in to the International last year were the result of the organizing efforts of the 16 members of the organizing department and the Volunteer Organizing Committees of the locals.

Organizing is the way to keep your union and your local strong by bringing more options to the table for work and raise the standard of living of those currently working at a non-signatory. The IUEC and Local 17 have made a strong commitment to make our jurisdiction 100 percent signatory. Everyone that does our work deserves to be paid like the professionals they are and have the best apprenticeship program available.

There are still a few non-signatory companies in the Cleveland area and IUEC Local 17 needs to hear about where they are working. At the bottom of the article is a list of the signatories for Local 17. If you see a company not listed below then please call Business Manager John Driscoll, Jr. at 216-431-8088 or email him at

IUEC Local 17 will be accepting applications of its apprenticeship program on July 16th. Those interested in applying must go to the National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP) website, click on Careers, cursor to the bottom of the page and click on the link for Local 17 STARTING AT MIDNIGHT JULY 16TH. In order to be considered for a position on the list you must follow all the steps indicated. Good luck to those wishing to join the best trade in the trades.

A letter from Local 17 is being sent to members and their families on behalf of American Income Life Insurance Company. Since 2004 AIL has contacted members of Local 17 about life insurance products and services. All members and retirees receive a $3500 accidental death benefit through the Local regardless of whether they talk with an AIL representative or not. AIL is a 100 percent union company. If you are looking for insurance products, it may be worth your time to talk with an agent.


The Brothers and Sisters of IUEC Local 17 send their condolences to the family of retired Brother Rick Bodnar who passed away February 27th.

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

June ’18 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and sisters:

There’s a lot going on so lets get started…

Congratulations go out to Joe Gauker for passing the Mechanics Exam. As I always say, the Mechanics Exam is the only unbiased evaluation of your knowledge of the trade you will ever have. Work smart and work safe!

Starting this fall there will be three apprentice classes to reduce the class size and give more opportunities for individualized instruction. I am also pleased to say that I am joining the instructing team. As of this writing I do not know how I will be used but, I am looking forward to the challenge of passing on what little I know to the next generation of constructors.

Two issues arose over the past month worth passing along regarding the contract and work we claim. A company was going to send two helpers to unload a truck while their mechanics were in training. The supervisor calling it in said it “wasn’t a big deal because it would be unloaded by a Lull anyway.” This is not the right answer. We unload the trucks, not the other trades or company drivers. Second, if drilling a hole is sub-contracted out a mechanic must be on the job the entire time including the assembly and disassembly of the rig.

Know your contract and know what it means. Do not give up our work.

Congratulations to NEIEP and Work Preservation on their outstanding job at the Ohio State House highlighting the training each and every elevator constructor must go through to be come a mechanic and the continuing education available to them. The program targeted Ohio’s House and Senate members as well as the staff of the Ohio Department of Commerce Industrial Compliance Division and was meant to support efforts to pass the Elevator Safety Bill through the legislature. Currently 32 states have licensing of elevator constructors.


Where are they working?

Jeff Lindell and Dave Francis in Kentucky doing escalator work for Kone,

Scott Hicks and Ryan Todd in Westerville installing two cars for Schindler,

Brett Olofinn adjusting in Beachwood for Kone,

Pat McCann and Brian Owens installing a two stop and a three stop at UH Women’s and Children’s Hospital on Euclid for Thyssen,

John Logue and Brandon Alley at Cleveland Clinic S Building doing a five-car mod for Otis,

Bernie Sickle and Corey Ptak at Beachcliff Apartments in Westlake doing a jack for Schindler,

Tom Gombar and Tim Moore on the RTA route for Kone,

Anthony Metcalf and Mark Carollo at the Lorain County Courthouse doing a jack for Thyssen,

DJ Spring and Deven Shields at University Circle installing three cars for Otis,

Pat McCann and Brian Owens unloading jobs at Ursuline College and Cleveland Heights Communion of the Saints for Thyssen,

Jason Saunders and Lemroy Hurd at Trinity Towers doing a two-car mod for Otis,

John Patton, Heath Kramer, Todd Ross and Joe Gauker at Progressive Field opening the stadium,

Scott Hicks and Ryan Todd at the Van Aken District doing two six-stop cars for Schindler,

Jason Faber and Mike Hogan at Stouffer’s doing a door mod for Thyssen,

Dave Gnagy and Matt Carlton at WO Walker doing a two-car mod for Schindler,

Robin Eaton and Ray Mack at the Browns Stadium replacing travel cords for Kone,

Don Knapik and Jason Tischler at AECOM replacing travel cords and roller guides for Schindler,

John Brunner and Ernie Rodriguez installing a hydro in Beachwood Parking Garage for Schindler,

Tom Peska and Dan Varga at Scranton Road Church installing a four-stop hydro for Schindler,

Bob Meyer and Chris Scholle installing a four-stop hydro in North Royalton for Thyssen,

Dave Francis and Jeff Lindell at West 25th Street Lofts installing two six-stop cars and one service car for Kone.

The Brothers and Sisters of Local 17 send their condolences to the family of Brother Allan Greene who passed away March 21st.

As of this writing there is one mechanic and one apprentice on the bench.

Until next month…

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.