Economic change and stability in the Pacific Northwest has been a roller coaster to say the least. In my short career I have seen our industry change dramatically. From a technology standpoint we have moved into an era of unforeseen possibilities. From a manufacturing standpoint I think its safe to say "Value Engineering" has become the precedent. Adapting to these changes requires continued focus on Safety, Education, and Craftsmanship. Those three things are what set us apart from the non-union competitors.
Unions were established by workers to increase safety and create better working conditions. Personal Safety starts with the right mindset, attitude, and training. Wearing proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) should become habit if its not already. In order to continue providing labor for the companies we represent, we must keep a healthy & capable workforce. The safety mindset should extend beyond work hours and find it's place in our personal lives. Without thinking I grab gloves, safety glasses, and ear plugs when working on home projects. Just as the bracelet the International sent to us says "We came to this trade to have a better life not a shorter one. In memory of our lost members"
How many time's have we heard "Education is Key" or "Knowledge is Power"? Our wage's are a direct result of our knowledge and ability as Elevator Constructors. When it comes to safely and efficiently doing our jobs education is invaluable. Someone once asked what elevator people do, my reply "Umm...Everything??? Yesterday I was hoisting machine beams with a tower crane, and today I was troubleshooting a computer network that controls several elevators." Our success as a Trade, and our strength as a Union comes from our members unique desire to better themselves every chance we get.
Professional Craftsman are proactive and not reactive to industry change. Union Elevator Constructors are setting the standard for Professional Craftsmen in every trade. We are the face of the companies we represent, and we should always take the high road. Our job is to ensure safe and reliable operation on the equipment we install and maintain. "Value Engineering" is a direct result of competitive pricing and the need for higher profits. Our ability to communicate with customers, employers, and the public is vitally important. Please continue communication on a professional level with management about the problems we see, and suggest practical solutions. The market place right now is going low bid, lets not lower our standards or ethic.
As work begins to ramp up lets not forget where we came from, but do look ahead at where we are going. The opportunity to train the next generation of Union Elevator Constructors is here, lets teach them what it is to be Union. Show them how serious we are about safety and lead by example. Ask your apprentice how school is going, and offer to help them learn the curriculum. Give constructive criticism on the work they perform, and teach them what it takes to be a Professional Craftsmen. Let's not belittle or dehumanize them, the Elevator Trade will quickly humble even the most experienced Journeyman. Our livelihood depends on the next generation of Union Elevator Constructors to succeed.