NEIEP offering online rigging and signal class

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.

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.

May ’11 Constructor Article

Brothers and sisters:

HAPPY MAY DAY!

I would like to take ask everyone reading this to take a moment and say a prayer for those that have been affected by the ongoing disaster in Japan.  The country faces an uncertain future as it deals with the aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdowns.

In the 1940’s when my father was getting confirmed it was typical for the presiding Bishop at the end of the interaction between him and the confirmandi to give them a small slap on the face and direct them to “be prepared to defend your faith.”  Years later, my dad said that at the moment he was slapped he fell ill for almost a week.  If you have been following the twists and turns of the union-busting bills in Ohio and other states, it is clear that we, as union brothers and sisters, need to be prepared to defend our brethren.

During the past few months I have been looking for sources to keep updated on the fluid battle in which we are engaged.  Consequently I found these two great sites.  The first is from the Ohio AFL-CIO (ohaflcio.org).  The second site, and one I added to my RSS feed, is the blog from the national AFL-CIO (blog.aflcio.org).   Both sites are packed with up to date information and other links focused on the national and Ohio battle fronts against the class warfare initiated by the right.  Because I only have 650 words to keep you up to date here in the Constructor, I have set up a blog at throughthemill.wordpress.com to add commentary and analysis.

Please educate yourself on the issues and be sure you can stand on your facts when being attacked by an uninformed or misguided anti-union antagonist.  At least that way, if you get slapped you stand a chance of not becoming ill.

Even though it is coming to the end of the school year, it is still the apprentice’s responsibility to get their OJT forms in on time.  If you have not been getting your forms in on time and are three months in arrears, the JATC will be asking for an explanation.  Be prepared to justify your actions.

There are reports that a team from Akron (Local 45) was caught working in our jurisdiction without informing the hall.  This is a reminder that if you are asked to go out of the locals jurisdiction for any reason, you are required to check in with the business agent of the local in which you are working.

Where are they working?

Roy Skinner Jr. and Jeff Lindell performing safety tests at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel for Kone,

Bill Sellers and Jason Costa doing a jack at Playhouse Square Parking Garage for Schindler,

Roy Skinner Sr. and Craig Nolty doing a three-car mod at Tudor Arms for Kone,

Gerard Szemerkovsky and Tony Karovich installing two four-stop elevators at Carrington Court for Otis,

Jim Thompson and Tom Kelly doing a two-car mod at the Hyatt Hotel Rockside fro Otis,

Matt Haussler and Terry Keating doing a jack job at Surf Side Towers for Kone,

Bob Garman and Kevin Thomas doing service work for Thyssen,

Neil Beechuk and Bill Dudas installing three two-stop holeless hydraulics at CMHA Administration building for Thyssen,

Dave Brunner and Jim Archer doing a two-car mod at Campbell Court for Schindler,

Ken Bowles and Jason Sohayda doing a mod at Euclid Hospital for Otis,

Tom Gombar and Dave Drnak cabling at the Hamptons for Response,

Gary Thompson and Chris Wyatt doing a three-car mod at W.O. Walker building for Schindler,

Scott Hicks and Mark Byram finishing a punch list at UH Cancer Center for Schindler,

As of this writing there are 24 mechanics and two apprentices off work.

Till next month…

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety,

Don

dknapik@windstream.net

April ’11 Cleveland Citizen Article

I would like to start off by asking everyone reading this to take a moment and say a prayer for those that have been affected by the disaster in Japan.  The country faces an uncertain future as it deals with the aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami and ongoing threat of multiple nuclear meltdowns.

Even though it is coming to the end of the school year, it is still the apprentice’s responsibility to get their OJT forms in on time.  If you have not been getting your forms in on time and are three months in arrears, the JATC will be asking for an explanation.  Be prepared to justify your actions.

There is sign up available for another OSHA 10 and Scaffolding class available for Local 17 members.  Call or see Business Agent Tim Moennich for times and dates.

At the March meeting, there was a first reading of proposed By-law changes.  Six of the changes are to make the document consistent with the International By-laws.  The seventh proposed By-law change brings missing a mandatory meeting (November, December and January as well as any specially called meetings) for any other reason than scheduled vacations or work under review of the Executive Board.  The third reading is planned for the May meeting.

There are reports that a team from Akron (Local 45) was caught working in our jurisdiction without informing the hall.  This is a reminder that if you are asked to go out of the locals jurisdiction for any reason, you are required to check in with the business agent of the local in which you are working.

At a meeting of the Cleveland Building Trades, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason talked about the off-shore windmill project.  The contractors are looking to install five to eight windmills three-and-a-half miles north of the crib.  The windmills will produce enough power for eight thousand homes and will be built with all union labor.  When built, these will be the first off-shore windmills in the United States and will position Ohio to be a regional hub for windmill construction, engineering and manufacturing.

As of this writing, Ohio Senate Bill 5, the bill stripping public-sector workers of their collective bargaining rights, just came out of committee in the House where it is sure to be approved and then signed by Governor John Kasich.  Once the legislative battle over SB 5 ends, the rest of the anti-union agenda will be unleashed.  In March 16th radio interview with Mike Trivisonno on Cleveland’s WTAM 1100, Kasich indicated he is looking to exempt municipalities from prevailing wage laws.

Two other pending House bills take aim at private-sector labor rights.  House Bill 61 gives private sector employers with annual sales of less than $500,000 the option of offering employees to use time off in lieu of overtime pay.  House Bill 102 prohibits agencies from entering into project labor agreements (PLA) on any public improvement project and prohibits state money going to local public improvement projects whenever a PLA has been negotiated.

While everyone’s attention is concentrated on Ohio, Wisconsin and neighboring states, the Republicans in Washington have come up with some cuts of their own:

$99 million in cuts for OSHA

$4 billion in job training and employment services

$50 million in cuts to the National Labor Relations Board,

$786 million in cuts to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Part of the reason OSHA and the NLRB exist in the first place is because of the Triangle Shirt factory fire on March 25, 1911.  146 women, mostly Italian and eastern European Jewish  immigrants and some as young as fourteen, died when a fire ripped through the sewing factory just a few minutes short of the end of their day.

At 4:40 PM, a cigarette tossed into a wicker basket of cotton scraps caught fire and gutted the eighth, ninth and tenth floors of the Asch Building in New York City.  At least one of the exits was locked and the other blocked by fire.  The exits were routinely locked to keep workers from stealing product and would only be unlocked at quitting time.

During the frenzy the fire escape collapsed from the weight and bodies piled up on the top of the elevator as workers tried to climb down the ropes.  The greatest loss of life was from smoke and leaping the 100 feet to the pavement below in order to escape the white-hot flames.

The building had been inspected by the city the week before the fire and the owners were cited for the fire escapes.

The International Ladies garment Workers Union (ILGWU), which represented some of the 500 employed at Triangle, set up a $30,000 relief fund for the survivors and the families of the victims.  On April 2 they lead a procession of empty hearses which was joined by 50,000 workers marching in memory of their lost brethren.  They also pushed for increased pay, worker safety and a 52-hour work week for garment workers.

In the aftermath, Triangle owners Max Blanck and Isaac Harris were indicted on seven counts of second-degree manslaughter.  After a twenty-three day trial they were acquitted because the prosecutor could not prove they knew the door were locked during working hours.  Twenty-three individual civil suits followed and each was ultimately settled for $75 per life lost.

Days after the fire, Blanck and Harris set up shop a few blocks away and were cited for blocking exits, the same reason given for the massive loss of life at the fire site.  When in court, the judge apologized to the pair for the $25 fine.  The company eventually closed and to their deaths, Blanck and Harris presented their operations as models of safety and cleanliness.

When reforms in fire safety, working conditions and child labor laws were written in the years leading up to the formation of the NLRB in 1936 and OSHA in 1970, they were written in the blood of the 146 who died and the tears of those that survived.

This, my brothers and sisters, is part of our union heritage and why public and private sector unions still play an important role in worker safety and quality of life.

April ’11 Constructor Article

Brothers and sisters:

Is it clear why it is important to elect labor friendly candidates?  Cairo moved to Madison as the Republican governor tried to legislate what he could not negotiate and Governor Kasich is standing on the same precipice as his Wisconsin counterpart.  If you did not get the March issue of the Cleveland Citizen or read my article, please go to my blog at through-the-mill.com and read the post “Cairo Comes to Madison” discussing the situation as of March 1.

Please read it!

As of this writing, there are 31 members off.  How many of these brothers and sisters would be working if everyone was vigilant about protecting Article IV work?  Article IV is the part of the contract that spells out the work that is to be performed by the Elevator Constructor and it is very detailed about the work we claim.  Some of the points seem archaic, like references to steam, belt, compressed air and hand powered elevators but others, like the use of fiber optics speak to the present and future of the trade.

Every year the International wins case after case of Article IV violations by the companies and every year we in the field find reasons to let some of these blatant violations pass unchecked.

Also, do not forget Article VIII which spells out one-man and team repair work.  This is an area that the companies have exploited to our disadvantage and we need to be ever more aggressive at protecting.  Their corporate officers and our elected leadership signed the contract.  We need to be sure the companies live up to their end.  We do.

With the spring semester in full swing, here is a reminder that apprentices can only miss two classes per semester and those classes must be made up before the final exam.  Look to these pages and the Citizen for makeup dates.  Rick Myers has 16 mechanics in the hydraulic controller theory and troubleshooting class that is currently underway.  He will also be teaching an OSHA 10 class that gives you a card allowing you to work on sites that require OHSA 10 training.

The annual Retiree’s Dinner will be held on April 15th at Frank Sterle’s, 1401 East 55th Street.  As always, cocktails are served at 5:30 and dinner at 6:30.

The easiest thing to do is sit around and complain.  We all do it, don’t lie.  We complain about our jobs, our bosses, our customers, spouses, helpers, mechanics, blah, blah, blah.  How often do you take the initiative to make a positive change?  Honestly?  You have an opportunity to make an impact on the trade by submitting your ideas for the contract or by-laws for our delegates to take to the 30th General Convention in Orlando this August.  This is a real opportunity for everyone to make their voice heard on the future of the trade.  The deadline for submissions to the International is May 31st so get your ideas to Tim ASAP.

Where are they working?

Dave Hess and Joe Broz repairing water damage at the Pinnacle Building for Thyssen,

John Goggin and Ed Gimmel at EMH doing machine work for Schindler,

Jason Fredrick and Anthony Metcalf doing a mod at Villa Mars at West 70th and Detroit for Thyssen,

Neil Beechuk and Bill Dudas at the Heritage Office Building doing a three-stop mod for Thyssen,

Matt Pinchot and Scott Villanueva doing service work for Otis,

Denny Dixon, Bob Myers, Terry Keating and Tim Narowitz at the Art Museum for Kone,

Matt Weingart, Jim Archer, John Brunner, Scott Hicks, Dave Brunner, Mark Byram and Taurus Ogletree finishing up UH Caner Center for Schindler.

Condolences go out to Mark and John Ondich whose mother, Elaine, passed away February 4th.

As of this writing, there are 28 mechanics and three apprentices off.

‘till next month,

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.

Don

Dknapik@windstream.net