August ’12 Constructor Article

Brothers and sisters:

In March of 2005, after much prodding from their children, my 75-year old parents realized to their amazement they were not going to live forever and made up their wills and financial and medical powers of attorney.  Less than two weeks after signing the papers, my father had a heart attack, went to the hospital and subsequently died.  While this was happening, my mother was doing physical therapy at an east side facility.  The mental and emotional strain of April 2005 was incredible, but somehow we made it through.

My mother retired in 1994 from Rini’s Supermarket and was using Medicare for her primary insurance provider and UFCW Local 880 as a secondary.  My father retired from LTV as a salaried employee in 1993 and had not been a picture of health with multiple cardiac issues since the early ‘80’s.  Any health benefits he had on retirement dissolved with the company and his pension was halved when Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. assumed the liability for the federal government.

As the executor of my father’s estate and financial power of attorney for my widowed mother, it fell on me to write the checks and clear up the accounts.  The state of their finances was not that bad.  My mother had consolidated several accounts together and was paying off smaller debt on a regular basis.  When the bills for my father’s stay and the ongoing care my mother received came in, I was flabbergasted at the exorbitant rates being charged by the facilities and providers.

In several conversations my mother expressed that her one great wish was to go home.  As the summer drew on and the bills kept coming in, I learned about the lifetime maximum for non-hospital stays and quickly calculated that my parents were dangerously close to reaching that number.  My mother’s hope to return home looked more like a pipedream with every invoice and EOB that crossed my desk.

Finally, in late fall of 2005, I received an explanation of benefits from 880.  I opened the envelope and held my breath as I unfolded the paper.  The amount the hospital invoiced for my father’s final hospital stay was in the mid five figures.  When I scanned down the page to the last line it read “the above amount is paid in full.”  I am not embarrassed to say that my relief was monumental and I shed tears of joy.  Mom could come home after all.

With all the rancor, discord and polarization over the Affordable Care Act, all I know is that without Medicare and Local 880 everything my parents worked their entire lives for would have disappeared overnight.

Not bad for two programs everyone derided as socialism at their inception.


Where are they working?


Matt Weingart, Dave and John Brunner, Mark Byram, Ron Rittwage and Chris DeJesus at the Med Mart for Schindler,

Neil Beechuk and Nick Meyer installing a freight car at BW for Thyssen,

Jason Fredrick. Anthony Metcalf, Bill Dudas and Todd Belak working on the modernization at Halle’s for Thyssen,

Gary Thompson doing a mod in Akron for Schindler,

Keith Poscocil and Anthony Young doing a mod at Cliff Towers for Kone,

Mike Miller and Craig Nolty installing a four-stop for Otis at the Museum of Contemporary Art,

Shawn Yatsko, Dave Laudermilk, Kevin Driscoll and Bill Yuhas at the Ernst and Young Building for Thyssen,

Scott Hicks and Chris De Jesus installing a five-stop car at AT&T for Schindler,

Jim Thompson and Jonathan Koch doing a four car mod at Metro Hospital for Otis.


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


Till next month…

Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.



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

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

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,