(L-R): Mike Mintle, Chicago and Cook County Building and Construction Trades Council Secretary/Treasurer and Local 2 Member; John Valone, EIWPF National Coordinator and Local 2 Member; Gary Pipiras, Local 2 Vice President / Business Representative; Bobby Capuani, IUEC Organizer and Local 2 Member; Eric Crane, Local 2 Vice President / Business Representative; Tom Karlya, DRI Foundation Senior Vice President; Dr. Allison Bayer, Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Diabetes Research Institute, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; Juan Gonzalez, Local 2 President/Business Manager and International Vice President; Rob Kennedy, Local 2 Business Representative; Kate Hickey, Local 2 Financial Administrator; Ed Christensen Sr., IUEC Regional Director.

International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) apprentices and mechanics are fortunate to benefit from one of the best healthcare plans in the country through the National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan. This plan gives them access to a generous and comprehensive schedule of medical, prescription drug, mental health/substance abuse disorder, dental, vision, and hearing benefits. However, far too many of our members working in the elevator trade are diagnosed with diabetes. The Diabetes Research Institute Foundation (DRIF) is working to change that, and with the continued support of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) and the IUEC, they are closer to eradicating this devastating disease.

More than twenty years ago, a representative from the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) attended an IUEC Convention in Toronto, Canada, as a guest speaker. He asked the people in attendance – how many of you in this room have a family member or close friend who has been diagnosed with diabetes? According to the IUEC Local 2 members who were in the audience that day, over ninety percent of the elevator constructors in the room raised their hands.

The DRI first came to the attention of the IUEC through NABTU, which has supported the DRI for more than 35 years. Their long-running, nationally-coordinated Blueprint for Cure: DAD’s Day and Labor of Love campaigns encourage members of the building trades to come together to support the DRI’s goal to find a biological cure for diabetes. Since NABTU began supporting the DRI, they have raised over $63 million dollars for diabetes research; NABTU’s website states: “Through bucket collections, walkathons, motorcycle rallies, golf tournaments, bowling tournaments, poker runs, and more, the Building Trades community raised the funds necessary to build the Diabetes Research Institute.”

Elevator constructor apprentices, mechanics, and IUEC leadership have been an integral part of making support like this possible. In 2022, as in past years, IUEC Local 2 in Chicago was one of NABTU’s top DAD’s Day donors. Deeply impacted by the words of the speaker in Toronto, Local 2 leadership brought that message home to their membership – so now, for more than two decades, IUEC Local 2 in Chicago has held an annual charity golf outing to benefit the work the DRI is doing to eradicate a disease which, according to statistics obtained by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK),  affects more than 37 million people in the United States – over 11% of the country’s population.

Through the Local 2 Organization for Diabetes Research 501(c)(3) charity, IUEC members, their friends, families, and supporters from other IUEC Locals and the greater Chicagoland labor community have cumulatively raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the DRIF. Sponsorships, entry fees, raffles, a hole-in-one challenge, and other activities during the event have provided many opportunities for the IUEC community to donate. Last year, more than 500 people attended the tournament. “We definitely want to thank all of the people who come out and participate, whether volunteers or golfers…anyone who supports the cause,” said Gary Pipiras and Eric Crane, who both serve as Local 2 Vice Presidents and Business Representatives.

Because of the success of the Chicago tournament, Local 2 has offered advice to other IUEC Locals and building trades members who want to set up golf outings for DRIF or other charitable causes in their areas. “IUEC 12 in Kansas City just reached out to us…we give them guidelines, I give them our flyer. We’ve helped the sprinkler fitters and bricklayers as well,” said Kate Hickey, Local 2’s Financial Administrator, who has been instrumental in the event’s planning for many years.

Local 2 IUEC president presents a donation of $71,000 to DRI

(L-R): Juan Gonzalez, Local 2 President/Business Manager and International Vice President presents a donation of $71,000 to Tom Karlya, DRI Foundation Senior Vice President and Dr. Allison Bayer, Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Diabetes Research Institute, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

ElevatorInfo visited IUEC Local 2 in Chicago on St. Patrick’s Day as they presented a donation of $71,000 to the Diabetes Research Institute and Foundation. IUEC Leaders from the Local, along with Mike Mintle, Chicago and Cook County Building and Construction Trades Council Secretary/Treasurer, and IUEC members involved in the organization of the annual charity golf tournament, gathered to personally hand the check to the DRI Foundation’s Senior Vice President, Tom Karlya, and its Director of Major Gifts, Brendon Steenbergen, along with and Dr. Allison Bayer, Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Diabetes Research Institute, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Dr. Bayer, a cellular immunologist and leading researcher in the fight against autoimmune type 1 diabetes, gave a presentation on the research that’s being conducted at the DRI facility to the group and explained how this research could lead to a cure for diabetes. She began with an overview of what diabetes is and how it affects the body at the cellular level, then shared information about current studies, clinical trials, and the advancement of DRI’s research around finding a biological cure for diabetes.

Because the research is so involved, much of the DRI’s work is funded by large grants sponsored by large health-focused foundations like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and the National Institute of Health (NIH). So why is funding from groups like NABTU building trades councils and IUEC elevator constructors so important? In order to qualify for larger grants, researchers must first prove to potential grantors that the work they propose using the grant for is worth funding – meaning, they have to prove that they can get results. This requires they collect data, conduct preliminary test studies, and prepare detailed reports of their findings before they can apply for larger grants to advance the science.

Donations raised by the elevator constructors in Local 2 are given as ‘unrestricted’ funding so that the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation can immediately direct them toward their areas of greatest need. This is especially important to support the preliminary studies that make obtaining larger grants possible. “A lot of those initial studies that we need to get pre-clinical data for a clinical trial are supported by the foundation, said Dr. Bayer.

Tom Karlya explained, “A lot of times in academia, they put out an RFP (request for proposal), and then by the merit of what the proposed science is, they are awarded grants. What we do is we work directly with the scientists – every year, we meet with all of them – and we find out what looks promising. If we see something that looks promising that didn’t get NIH funding or funding from another source, we don’t want it to die on the vine, we don’t want it to just go away because it didn’t have the money. It’s like a catch 22 – you have to prove it to get the money, but in order to prove it, you need the money. What we do is we move the science forward.”

The building where Dr. Bayer and the other research scientists carry out their work, a 78,000 square foot research facility on the campus of the University of Miami in Florida, was built 100% by union labor, according to NABTU1. “Everything we receive goes to the institute. We don’t even have to pay rent for that building because of you guys,” said Tom.

1Source: https://nabtu.org/dads-day/

ElevatorInfo recently met with Jim Snider, Executive VP at Quality Elevator to talk about the advantages IUEC affiliation brings not only to the elevator constructor mechanics and apprentices his company employs but to his overall business.

Jim has worked in the elevator industry practically all his life. After graduating from high school and starting out as an electrician, he became an installer in new construction at Haughton Elevator. Around the time that Haughton was acquired by Schindler in the mid-1980s, Jim passed his mechanic’s test and transferred to Quality Elevator, a local/regional independent company based in Bladensburg, MD. Jim spent most of his career as a field mechanic there before transitioning to a management position. Today, Jim is the Executive Vice President for Quality Elevator Company, which has, according to its website, “grown to become one of the largest independent elevator service contractors in the Maryland, Virginia, and District of Columbia Region.”

At the top of the list of advantages for elevator companies affiliated with the IUEC, is the superior education and training all IUEC elevator mechanics receive, starting with their apprenticeship through the National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP) and continuing on through their years in the trade as mechanics. “We invest heavily in training, and the union really helps us out with that area of the industry. They have an excellent educational program,” Jim said.

Because their NEIEP education provides hands-on training and a broad base of knowledge covering the fundamentals of what elevator mechanics need to know to be the most skilled, proficient, and safety-focused in the industry, Jim is able to craft the additional safety training his company provides to the specifics of what his mechanics need based on the type of work they do and equipment they work with every day.

“The NEIEP program is one of those things that sets Quality Elevator and all of the other (IUEC-affiliated) companies apart,” he said. “They provide online training, they provide in-person training, they have shops (including) welding shops… you won’t find any other industry that I know of that provides this training at the level that we provide and work with the union on.”

Knowing his employees are taken care of by a generous benefit plan is also an advantage of being an IUEC-affiliated company. The IUEC provides the best health care coverage there is for its members and their families, with no additional premium costs. “Their healthcare is paid for – it doesn’t come out of their paychecks,” he said.

Through the National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan, IUEC elevator constructors and their families have access to a generous and comprehensive schedule of medical, prescription drug, mental health/substance abuse disorder, dental, vision, and hearing benefits. And once an IUEC member is eligible for benefits under the Health Benefit Plan, full coverage is also extended to the member’s spouse and children.

Beyond the health care plan, Jim talked about the three levels of retirement IUEC mechanics enjoy – including a pension, 401K, and annuity. “They can retire very well after this,” he said.

The National Elevator Industry Pension Plan is one of the largest defined benefit multiemployer pension plans in the US and is funded by contributions employers make to the Pension Plan for each hour a member works. So for every hour an elevator constructor works for a contributing employer like Quality Elevator Company, that individual’s monthly lifetime pension benefit grows. It’s especially important that in an environment of troubled Pension Plans, since its inception in 1962, the NEI Pension Plan has been secure and has never failed to meet its financial obligations.

The Annuity 401(k) Plan is one of the largest defined contribution multiemployer pension plans in the nation. IUEC members’ retirement savings in the Annuity 401(k) Plan grow through contributions employers make to the Plan for each hour the IUEC member works (their “Annuity Account”), and voluntary pre-tax wage deferrals (401(k) elective deferrals) each IUEC elevator constructor chooses to contribute to the Plan (their“401(k) Account”). IUEC elevator constructors are always fully vested in their Annuity Accounts and 401(k) Accounts. This great source of financial security is in addition to the pension IUEC members receive through the Pension Plan and Social Security.

Superior education and training, an excellent health care plan and the security of a reliable plan for retirement allow the elevator constructor apprentices and mechanics who work for Jim and his team at Quality Elevator Company to focus on getting their work done effectively and efficiently without the additional worries or distractions that workers at companies without these benefits may face.

To learn more about the benefits of becoming an IUEC-affiliated elevator company or hiring one to install, service, troubleshoot, modernize, or repair your conveyance equipment, contact us here.


Last week, the ElevatorInfo site launched a new page with information for wind turbine owners and operators about the work International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) members from across the United States are doing with equipment in the wind power industry. From Deepwater Wind’s Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island to land-based wind farms in California, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Minnesota, and beyond, our skilled apprentices and mechanics are helping to build and maintain the elevator systems within the nation’s fastest-growing clean power energy sector.

According to a report from the International Energy Association, in 2021, electricity generated from wind power (globally) increased by 17% over the previous year, which was the highest rate of growth among all renewable power technologies1. And for the United States, the US Department of Energy reported that in 2021, wind power accounted for 32% of U.S. energy capacity growth2. As the wind power industry continues to grow, there will be an increased need for experienced technicians to take care of the complex machinery that generates it.

Working on the conveyance systems housed within wind turbines is a natural fit for IUEC elevator constructors, who have been installing, servicing, repairing, and modernizing equipment like this for more than 150 years. Learning how to work safely at heights and in all different kinds of challenging environmental conditions is an integral part of their work. The comprehensive education and training they receive from the National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP) provides an excellent starting point, giving them broad foundational skills (in elevator and escalator installation, maintenance, and repair) during apprenticeship – along with continuing education courses in focused topics which allow them to develop the specialized skills needed for the wind power industry. Given the knowledge and experience required to perform the tasks of an elevator constructor, it’s not a surprise that when wind turbine owners and contractors are looking for qualified people to work on their equipment, they look to IUEC mechanics.

Based on an assessment of the core competencies required for the elevator trade, by the time IUEC mechanics complete their apprenticeship and earn their journeyperson’s card, they must:

  • Be able to work safely at extreme heights
  • Have advanced mechanical aptitude
  • Possess the ability and willingness to follow instructions
  • Have sharp analytical skills
  • Have the ability to work effectively in small teams
  • Be self-motivated/directed and able to work with minimal supervision
  • Know and implement safety procedures for working with high and low voltage wiring
  • Troubleshoot control wiring and perform diagnostics
  • Work on hydraulics and pipe fitting
  • Understand key fundamentals and advanced concepts of working with electromechanics and motors

IUEC mechanics don’t only rely on the broad base of knowledge gained during their time in the NEIEP apprenticeship program, they actively seek out ways to advance their learning to stay current with changes in industry technology. It’s through NEIEP’s continuing education programs that they develop the specialized skills they need to work on all different kinds of conveyance equipment, including wind industry equipment. And if members have training needs that are especially unique, the IUEC seeks out partnerships with other training providers who can fulfill them.

ElevatorInfo recently shared an article about a new collaboration between the IUEC’s education program and Survival Systems USA in Groton, CT. Working with Survival Systems has made it possible for the IUEC to provide Global Wind Organization (GWO) Basic Training to elevator technicians/constructors who install, maintain, service, and repair wind industry equipment – including a Sea Survival course that involves getting into the water to learn safety skills necessary for working with offshore equipment.

Certifications IUEC mechanics who complete the Survival Systems training program earn include:

  • GWO BST-1005 Basic Safety Training
  • GWO BST-WAH-1002 Work at Height
  • GWO BST-MH-102 Manual Handling
  • GWO BST-FA-2002 Medic First Aid + Trauma
  • GWO BST-FA-101 Fire Awareness
  • GWO-SS GWO Sea Survival
  • GWO-EFA Enhanced First Aid
  • GWO-ART Advanced Rescue Training

IUEC members who work on wind turbine elevators have also participated in the High Angle Rescue Training program at Kalamazoo Valley Community College in Michigan.

This spring, staff from the IUEC and the Elevator Industry Work Preservation fund will be visiting, speaking, and exhibiting at a number of major wind energy conferences, including:

American Clean Power’s Operations, Maintenance and Safety Conference 2023
Wed, Mar 1 – Fri, Mar 3
Marriott World Center
Orlando, Fl

Offshore Wind California’s Pacific Offshore Wind Summit 2023
Mon, May 8 – Wed, May 10
SAFE Credit Union Convention Center, 1401 K St
Sacramento, CA

American Clean Power’s Cleanpower Conference and Expo
Mon, May 22 – Thu, May 25
New Orleans, LA

American Clean Power’s Offshore Windpower Conference
Tue, Oct 3 – Wed, Oct 4
Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston St
Boston, MA

If you are an owner, operator, or contractor for offshore or land-based wind turbines, don’t jeopardize your equipment by allowing inexperienced mechanics to service the conveyance systems within them. Contact us here to be connected with an IUEC-affiliated company.


1. “Wind Electricity,” accessed February 23, 2023, https://www.iea.org/reports/wind-electricity
2. “DOE Finds Record Production and Job Growth in U.S. Wind Power Sector,” accessed February 23, 2023, https://www.energy.gov/articles/doe-finds-record-production-and-job-growth-us-wind-power-sector.