Frank Christensen's Letter to IUEC Local 2 Membership
Updated On: Jul 13, 2008
April 7, 2008
A Directive was made by our Membership at our last General Meeting that I write this letter to the Members of Local 2. There were close to 200 Members in attendance. The Directive is regarding the report I gave at the March 3, 2008, Meeting about an article that was written by a reporter from the Associated Press, John O’Connor.
In order to understand what occurred, I must start from the beginning as to why Local 2 got politically involved. The Electricians introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would have infringed on our work; that all wiring and motor work to be done in the State of Illinois shall be performed only by licensed Electricians. This House Bill failed, because of Local 2’s involvement.
In the early 2000’s, we became the Number One special interest group in Illinois – and not because of our financial backing. It was because of the Local 2 Membership knocking on doors and phone banking for politicians that were labor-friendly. The Political Action Committee (P.A.C.) was then created. All P.A.C. money is donated money. Where does that donated money come from? It originated with our Super Raffle. The Super Raffle offset the cost of our Local 2 Picnic, the Paul Roth Retirement Dinner, and P.A.C. We no longer have a Super Raffle due to a lack of involvement from our Membership.
Here is where our donated money comes from: Shirts that we sell at the Hall. P.A.C. makes anywhere from $3 to $5 a shirt. The second place we make money for P.A.C. is our Annual Golf Outing where we do a 50/50 Raffle. In 2003, Local 2, P.A.C., donated $10,000 to Governor Rod Blagojevich as did Local No. 3, St. Louis, who has approximately 400 Members. That’s not even a third of our Membership. In addition, quite a few other unions donated a lot more money than Local 2 did. We also donated money to several other politicians.
In 2003, there were three active I.U.E.C. Members on the Illinois Elevator Safety Review Board: Steve Hynes, President of Local 2 and a removed Officer; Rod Gillis, Business Representative for Local No. 55; and me. One of the requirements to become a Board Member is to fill out an application or hand in a résumé. My résumé was very extensive. I have been an Officer since the early 90s and have run numerous meetings under Robert’s Rules of Order. The question that’s always raised: Who would you want running a Medical Board? Not a janitor, but a doctor. That’s the same premise with the Elevator Safety Review Board. Doesn’t it make sense that an Elevator Constructor should be appointed as Chairman of the Illinois Elevator Safety Review Board – especially when Local 2 Members work on over 70% of the conveyances in the State of Illinois?
I am the Chairman of the Illinois Elevator Safety Review Board. This is my second term (four-year terms) in office. This is a non-paying position. There were two people who were not reappointed for a second term of office: Steve Hynes and Dan O’Malley.
Since 2002, we have had three Illinois Elevator Safety Bills passed. The first one was signed by Governor George Ryan. The last two were signed by Governor Rod Blagojevich. On the third and last bill, we are still waiting for the Rules Committee to pass the rules. Local 2 fought hard for every one of these bills.
In 2005, past Business Representative Terry Shanklin and I went to Springfield, because the non-union companies and people with disabilities (who were misinformed by these companies) were attempting to introduce a new bill into the Elevator Safety Act, with the approval of the Governor. This new bill would have destroyed the foundation and licensing of the Act. Terry and I were out-numbered 30-1. I was threatened at this meeting by the non-union faction with physical harm. Nevertheless, Terry and I did not waver and this bill was defeated.
Now, I will address the Board position I hold. It is for a municipality with a residency of 25,000 to 50,000. The U.S. census is done every ten years. The census in my town, Tinley Park, reflected a population of 48,000 in 2000, and that is where the State obtains its figures.
Our Illinois Safety Review Board Minutes are done by a Certified Shorthand Reporter. Once the Minutes are accepted, they are published on the Illinois Fire Marshall’s website, which is easily accessible from Local 2’s website, www.iuec2.com. Thus, Local 2 Members can see the facts.
In 2008, an attempt was made to amend HB5163 and SB2440 of the Illinois Elevator Safety Act wherein the Elevator Safety Review Board Members that came from the Municipality side were required to work for that municipality. That would have meant, for example, that a janitor, disposal remover, or any municipal employee could be an Elevator Safety Review Board Member. It is my belief that this attempt to amend came from an elevator inspection company. The House Representative that introduced this bill is Republican House Representative Sidney Mathias of Buffalo Grove – not a labor-friendly Representative. Again, this bill was also defeated in Committee.
The latest bill presented by non-union people is HB5161. It’s called “The Reclassification Act” (1099) (private contractors). ABC Construction, a non-union company, introduced this one. This bill was also defeated.
There was another bill introduced, HB4160. This bill states that if anyone gets stuck in an elevator and the Fire Department gets them out, it will be tagged (sticker) by the Fire Department. The elevator cannot be turned back on or put back in service until a Licensed Elevator Mechanic by the State of Illinois looks it over; repairs it, if needed; and puts it back in service. This bill has our approval. The Illinois Elevator Safety Act is about the safety of the public.
Both Union and non-union companies have to do all Safety Tests with an Inspector present. The Illinois Elevator Safety Board has already seen inspections that were never done. One Inspector got up and told the Board that the elevator he inspected could not have been inspected in over 20 years. It failed. In another instance, State Elevator Director Bob Capuani found that the Fireman Service in a high school was not functioning and the inspection company allowed it to run for several years. Another case in point occurred in a hospital. An Inspector performed an inspection on 28 elevators and conveyances in eight hours; four of them were no longer in existence for years. Another Inspector performed an inspection of approximately 20 elevators and 18 tractions in only four hours.
In Illinois, non-unions tried to stop the Elevator Safety Act. We, as a Union, know why: Because their employees cannot compete with our Members; because non-unions cannot compete with our Apprenticeship Program overseen by the Department of Labor with our curriculum, our school system, our teachers, our students, and, most of all, our Mechanics.
There are over 23 states that have Elevator Licensing across the country. The I.U.E.C. Work Preservation, working together with the companies, is trying to get several more Safety Bills passed throughout the United States. Unfortunately, the non-union element, from Iowa to Colorado, is trying everything to get them to fail.
At this time, I would like to address the following rumors:
1. I was indicted. That never happened.
2. The F.B.I. raided Ed and Frank Christensens’ homes. It never happened. 3. Frank Christensen resigned as Business Manager. This never happened. I never quit at anything. I would like to point out, though, that in my 29 years in the business, there have been two Business Managers who resigned their office, and one Business Manager who was removed from office.
4. It has been rumored that $10,000 was given to the Governor from our General Fund. Again, this never happened. The money was taken out of Local 2’s P.A.C. Fund, which is all donated money.
We have discovered that some of these rumors originated from some Inspectors and Supervisors.
Here’s what happens: The Illinois Elevator Safety Review Board finds Inspectors that are not doing the proper inspections, so they blame me for getting caught, even though the Board is consisted of 13 Members. They are: four Members from municipalities; three Members from the Fire Marshal; one from Labor; one building owner; one with disabilities; one elevator manufacturer; one representing seniors; and one architect.
Now for the Supervisors. I am not sorry for what I did – brought charges against 12 supervisors that were holding a Union Card or Withdrawal Card. These Supervisors worked out in New York while our Brothers were locked out. The Supervisors were found guilty by our Local 2 Executive Board and then our General Executive Board. They were fined and expelled, and I will not apologize for this.
It’s amazing to me that some Members would talk about unfounded information rather than about the good things. For example, we won a 10K decision with the National Labor Relations Board against the Ornamental Iron Workers Local 63, over the fronts. Then in January, alone, of 2008, Local 2 received over $82,000 in grievance and settlement money.
I am enclosing two letters where I invited John O’Connor, from the Associated Press, to our General Membership Meeting and his response. When I talked to this reporter over the phone, he requested an interview. I told him that I have a four-year-old son and a sixteen-month-old baby girl, who, later in life, will read his article. I then requested him to just print the truth. As you can see, that did not happen.
I also stated to him, “Why not write the good things instead of looking for the bad?” I told him about Local 2’s involvement with charities; i.e., The Polar Plunge for the Special Olympics where we raised over $17,000 (the only Union Trade involved in this Program); the $8,000 we raised for the Rodgers’ family, a soldier that was killed in Afghanistan and left a wife and three daughters behind; the Angola Project, along with Prosser High School students, their R.O.T.C., and the Teamsters, to build a school in Africa; or the Green Ribbon Motorcycle Run to help raise money for U.I.C. transplants for children (Local 2 is always the Number One Trade that comes out). Obviously, none of this mattered.
At our last General Membership Meeting, March 18, 2008, Armando Neira got up and stated that he wanted to donate his 10% Meeting Discount back to the Local 2 P.A.C. I, personally, want to say, “Thank you,” and what a fantastic idea. I’ve had several Members who want to do the same thing. Presently, Arnold Elmhorst is looking for the best way to handle this. Possibly, the Members may have to use two checks. John Valone, our President, is always looking for volunteers to knock on doors, to do phone-banking, or maybe you would just like to make a donation to Local 2’s P.A.C. Fund.
There is more I could write about in this letter about the P.A.C. and the Safety Bill, but I will close with this: If you have any questions, please feel free to give me or the Business Representatives a call. My cell is 312-735-0043. My email address is Frank2bm@aol.com. By the way, we are trying to obtain our Members’ email addresses. By emailing information to them, like this letter, it lowers our mailing expenses. Just trying to cut costs!