December ’11 Cleveland Citizen

Brothers and sisters:

On behalf of IUEC Local 17 I would like to wish a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone affiliated with the North Shore Federation of Labor.  Here is to a happy and safe holiday season to everyone and their family.

Meeting Notice:

The December and January meeting are special called meetings for the election and installation of officers.  If you cannot attend then you must contact the hall prior to the meeting or be subject to a $20 fine for non-attendance.

Starting January 1, there will be a $1.15 increase in the mechanics pay scale.  Each classification will receive an increase at their percentage of mechanics rate.

The annual Children’s Christmas Party will be held on Saturday, December 3rd from 1pm to 4pm at 3250 Euclid Avenue.  Refreshments and entertainment are provided and everyone is asked to bring a pastry.  This is a wonderful family event that brings old and young together and is a great kickoff to the Christmas season.

There was a very important mailing about a potential identity theft issue involving the Benefits office and Value Options, the network provider of mental health and substance abuse treatment.  According to the letter sent out to every participant, a computer tape containing personal information was lost in transit from Value Options back to the Plan office.  The information was provided to Value Options in order to qualify participants when they sought services.  Since neither the Plan office, Value Options or the carrier used for the shipment have located the tape, they arranged for identity theft protection through Debix for all plan participants at no cost for one year.  This includes members and their covered dependents.

Identity theft is nothing to be taken lightly.  If you have received the letter and not acted on it, I implore you to contact the Benefits office and take advantage of this opportunity to protect yourself and your dependents.  A link to the Benefits office is available through iueclocal17.org under the Union Links button.

WELCOME BACK

Brother Jeff Ford’s brother and retired Brother Bob Pudimat’s stepson, Captain Joe Ford, returned from service in Iraq.  Thank you to him and everyone serving their country.

At this writing there are 18 mechanics and one apprentice out of work.

ISSUE 2 AND BEYOND

If there was any doubt in the minds of anyone as to the sympathies of the Ohio electorate on the issue of public-sector collective bargaining, then the November 8th tsunami that led to the resounding defeated State Issue 2 spoke volumes.

Every single union member, whether public or private sector, must stand up and shake the hand of the brother or sister next to them over the defeat of Issue 2.  The turnout was nothing less than incredible and the 61 to 39 beating the Republican led Statehouse took on the issue was landslide by any measure.  In the heady afterglow of victory, there are still battles to be fought and the next one is forming as we speak.

The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, a Columbus-based “non-profit, non-partisan legal center dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of Ohioans from government abuse” presented 1621 signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office to turn Ohio into a right-to-work-for-less state.  They need only 1000 valid signatures to get the go ahead to gather 386,000 signatures to place the “Ohio Workplace Freedom Amendment” on the November 2012 ballot.

The amendment would turn Ohio into the 23rd right-to-work-for-less state and the first since 2001 when Oklahoma voted in RTW legislation.

This is the same group responsible for State Issue 3, the amendment to opt-out of the new federal health insurance program, which passed by a 66 to 34 percent margin.

Union brothers and sisters make no mistake, the conservative right and Tea Party activists are out to destroy American labor and their hard fought for victories.  I’ve often wondered why conservatives in particular hate us so much.

I have a lot of flippant answers but the serious one I keep coming back to is they fear the concerted action by many because it is harder to demonize a group than an individual.  The right has continuously portrayed union members as sub-humans who cannot find their asses with both hands.  Union leaders to them are cigar-smoking, whiskey-drinking, backroom dealing fat cats who are out for no one except themselves.  What a minute… isn’t that the traditional image of the robber baron of the Industrial Revolution that the conservatives love?

Conservatives are the ones that have all the correct answers and any logic that does not fit their mold of the world is rejected as obtuse thought.  This is a snobbery that perpetuates the class warfare that continues to tear at the soul of America.

I have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with people of all social strata:  CEO’s, corporate honchos, small business owners and politicians at every level through to the people that empty their trash cans.  People are remarkably alike in their root desires after their basic needs of food and shelter are met– we all want something better for our children.

Being a union member does not guarantee success and it does not shelter failure.

Being a union member, being productive at your job, and having the opportunity to make a better life through better wages, benefits and working conditions is something worth fighting for.

Now is the time to clean your guns, stock up on ammo and be prepared.  The conservatives are coming

December ’11 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and sisters:

The annual Children’s Christmas party will be held Saturday, December 3rd at the hall located at 3250 Euclid Avenue.  The party starts at 1pm and mothers are asked to bring baked goods.  Beverages will be provided.  If you have any questions, please contact Mike Hogan at mhogan67@yahoo.com.

The Cleveland Building and Construction Trades as well as Local 17 are supporting our brothers and sisters of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 880 in their labor dispute with Rite Aid.  While Rite Aid’s profits are at record levels, they refuse to bargain in good faith with the UFCW on a contract that retains the current level of benefits coverage.  As a response the North Shore Federation of Labor is boycotting Rite Aid and asking that all members of the building trades move their prescriptions to another UFCW represented pharmacy.  If you want information on the state of the boycott and which pharmacies are union represented then go to ufcwlocal880.org.

There were three fatalities reported at the October meeting.  The first was from Local 24, Birmingham, Alabama the second happened in New York City, Local 1, and the third was from Local 96, Ottawa, Canada.   Ours is a tough and unforgiving trade.  There are many ways to die and even more ways to become disabled.  This has to serve as a reminder to never take safety for granted because as soon as you do we may be draping the charter and holding a moment of silence at the next meeting for you.  Safety is no accident.

A member recently took a callback at a Parma apartment complex.  When checking out the pit, the car did not stop when he popped the bottom door lock.  When he examined the lock he found the wires jumped together on the same stud.  After correcting that issue, he decided to check the rest of the door locks.  When running the car down from the top landing, he found the same situation with the top lock.  He also discovered furniture on the car top.  When he informed the building management and the Parma Police, they arrested one the residents on a number of charges. Again, safety is no accident.

Local 17 won an arbitration hearing with Schindler on their giving away the flooring work at the new University Hospital Cancer Center.  This was Article IV work and because the company did not follow the contract they had to pay $2000 to the Local’s Contingency Fund.  This is in addition to the money paid on the same job for allowing another trade to block cable holes.  Know what is covered by Article IV of the contract and be sure the companies are not giving it away.  Your unemployed union brothers are counting on you.

 

Where are they working?

Kevin Thomas and Bill Dudas at Breckenridge Village installing a three-stop hydraulic for Thyssen,

Jeff Webber and Tom Gombar at JC Penny Strongsville doing escalator clean downs for Kone,

Paul Scheutzow doing stand by at the Juvenile Justice Center for Kone,

Matt Weingart and Chris DeJesus working at the Rockwell Building for Schindler,

Jason Faber and Joe Broz, Jr. cabling at Bridgeview for Thyssen,

Ken Bowles and Jason Sohayda doing a modernization at Kaiser for Otis,

Bernie Sickle and Steve Kemp doing a jack at UH for Schindler,

John Brunner and Taurus Ogletree doing a modernization at Euclid Commodore for Schindler,

Local 17 sends condolences to brothers Jim, John and Tom Goggin on the passing of their father and grandfather respectively in early October.  The Local also send condolences to Brother Harold Norsic on the passing of his mother and Brother John Sapochak who lost his father-in-law.

As of this writing there are 22 mechanics out of work.

 

Till next month,

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety,

 

Don

Dknapik@windstream.net

 

November ’11 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and sisters:

 

There is a lot going on.  So let’s get into it…

In a few days we will be going to the ballot box and deciding the future of public-sector unionization and to a greater extent the future of organized labor in Ohio.  The effort of the GOP lead executive office and statehouse to turn our once great state into a right-to-work-for-less state is a slap in the face to every public and private employee unionized or not. While I try to be as fair as possible to each side in an argument, it is difficult to understand the motivations of the state leaders to create a place where the standard of living would free fall to the lowest level it can achieve.

Senate Bill 5, from the beginning, was an effort to legislate what government could not negotiate.  As we all know, there are two signatures on every contract and if a governmental entity did not and could not agree with an item on a contract they had the perfect right to walk away from the table.  To limit the scope of contract negotiations screams of the type of extreme socialism that conservatives try to leverage against organized labor.

A NO vote on Issue 2, the initiative signed onto by almost 1.3 million Ohioans, would restore the balance to the contract process and let it play out where it is supposed to… at the negotiating table.

At the September meeting our convention delegates (Dennis Dixon, John Driscoll, Jr. and Brian McTaggart) lead by Business Agent Tim Moennich gave a comprehensive report on their activities at the 30th General Convention and discussed in detail the resolutions that came out of their committees.  Tim worked on the health committee, John on the pension, Brian sat on the resolutions and Denny heard trials and appeals.  If you wanted to know the details, you should have been at the meeting.  The meetings leading up to the contact in July are going to be very important for everyone who cares about their job.  Take an interest and be active.

Over the years Local 17 has been viewed as a bit of a renegade because of our vocal opposition to the leadership on several issues.  In spite of this perception Tim made a bid for an International vice president position.  Although he fell short in the final balloting, his efforts and the efforts of our delegates cleared these misperceptions and raised the overall profile of Local 17 in the eyes of the leadership and delegates from around North America.

Their work and the work of every other delegate should be applauded by all.

Also at the September meeting was the first reading of a proposed by-law change to increase the Special Meetings fine from $15 to $20.

Keep in mind that the November 18th, December 9th and January 13th meetings are MANDATORY.

Congratulations to the following newly minted mechanics: Joseph Broz, 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.

Because there will be only seven apprentices in the program for next year, Local 17 will be using distance learning for the first time.  The apprentices in the program will meet with Jerry Reitz once a month at the school and otherwise will be responsible for their own work.  This is the first time Local 17 will be using distance learning for the apprenticeship program.

As of this writing there are 24 mechanics and one apprentice out of work.

 

Till next month,

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.

 

Don

Dknapik@windstream.net

 

November ’11 Cleveland Citizen

Brothers and sisters:

The North Shore Federation of Labor is asking your support for our union brothers and sisters in the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 880 (UFCW) and their efforts to negotiate a fair contract with Rite Aid.  While Rite Aid’s profits have soared they have cut hours and benefits for their represented workers and have refused to come to the table with a reasonable offer that maintains workers integrity.

Consequently the UFCW, North Shore Federation of Labor and their affiliated unions and locals are asking all members of the building trades to boycott Rite Aid.  The other represented pharmacies, CVS and Giant Eagle, each offer incentives to those members looking to transfer their prescriptions.  The UFCW is a great union that truly puts its members first.  We need to support our union brothers and sisters with the combined effort of Cleveland area labor voting with their pocketbooks.

Meeting notice

The November 18, December 9 and January 13 meetings are mandatory special meetings for the nomination, election and installation of officers.  A $20 fine will be issued for non-attendance.  Requests for exemptions from attendance must be presented to the Local 17, Executive Board or Business Representative prior to the meeting either in writing, in person or by phone.

I am very pleased to announce that the new issue of Lift Magazine, a publication of NEIEP, should be in the mail as we speak.  The theme of the issue is New Technology.  There are articles on ThyssenKrupp’s Twin system, PMS motors and regenerative drives, MRL systems and the new performance-based elevator code.  It is another tool in NEIEP’s box of continuing education for the new and experienced member.  There are also a number of classes available online.  Please take the time to check out the site at neiep.org to enhance your knowledge in the trade.

At the October meeting, Business Agent Tim Moennich reported on three deaths in the International.  The details were sketchy, but this needs to be a reminder to everyone to work safe, work smart and be very aware of what is going on around you.  Another important aspect is to not cut corners on safety or Article IV team work.  If you need help on a job, call for it.  If you can’t get it, lock it out and tell them to send a team.  Safety is no accident.

Callback from Hell

A member recently took a callback at a Parma apartment complex.  When checking out the pit, the car did not stop when he popped the bottom door lock.  When he examined the lock he found the wires jumped together on the same stud.  After correcting that issue, he decided to check the rest of the door locks.  When running the car down from the top landing, he found the same situation with the top lock.  He also discovered furniture on the car top.  When he informed the building management and the Parma Police, they arrested one the residents on a number of charges. Again, safety is no accident.

Cleveland Brown’s All-Pro lineman Joe Thomas donated ten tickets along with vouchers for food, parking and sweatshirts to be given to out of work members and their families.  The tickets are for the November 13th game against the St. Louis Rams.  Local 17, as of this writing, has five tickets left.  If you or someone you know can use the tickets, then give call Business Agent Tim Moennich a call at 216-431-8088.

Schindler recently paid $2000 to the Contingency Fund for Article IV flooring work given to other contractors at the UH Cancer Center.  This was in addition to the amount paid previously for another trade blocking cable holes on the same job.  Keep vigilant.  Your out of work brothers are counting on you.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Voltaire

Since the election is only a few days away, I do not need to remind everyone reading this that a NO vote on Issue 2 is vital to supporting our brothers and sisters in the public-sector unions.  This is the home stretch on what has been a tsunami of support for the repeal of this union busting, ill-conceived notion that in order to balance local budgets, it is necessary to legislate what the government cannot negotiate.

I was talking with a friend who knows a member of a local school board.  The board member was telling him that if Issue 2 passes, then the system will be able to keep off the state watch list.  My friend’s response was that at contract time the board needs to hire better negotiators.  Most contracts have a reopen clause which allows either side to amend an agreement before the end of the contract.  The IUEC used this with NEBA to create the Assistant Mechanic slot which has put several thousand brothers and sisters back to work since its acceptance in August 2010.

There is also binding arbitration with public-sector contracts that is designed to avoid strikes and impasses.  According to the October 16 issue of the Plain Dealer the last public-sector strike was in July 2009 and there have been 16 total strikes in the last five years.  There were 18 cases of binding arbitration in 2010 according to the Ohio State Employment Relations Board (SERB).

SERB is the agency charged with collecting, tracking and analyzing the public-sector contracts for the state of Ohio in much the same way that the GAO does for the federal government.  The agency currently has 3,285 contracts on file.

In that same edition, the PD Editorial Board endorsed the passage of Issue 2.  An unemotional reading of the piece indicates that there was much debate among the members before arriving at the decision to endorse its passage.  An analysis of their logic, particularly in their naïve notion that the GOP led government would reexamine the more onerous aspects of the law, shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the first Law of Politics “He who has the Gold makes the rules.”  Most, if not all, office holders are beholden to this law through those that fund their campaigns.

North Shore AFL-CIO Executive Director Harriet Applegate wrote in her October 22nd rebuttal that “telling Ohioans that public employees are the problem and consequently have to pay for a crisis that was not of their making is deceitful and wrong” hit the nail square on the head.  The flood of letters decrying the papers endorsement and the number of subscription cancellations because of it is further proof of the acrimony following this issue.

Does their need to be reform?  What form should it take?  Who needs to sacrifice and how?  These are all valid questions that need answers as the state moves forward after the defeat of Issue 2.

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