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 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.