Florida’s IUEC Local 71 Celebrates 100 Years of Excellence

Can you guess how many elevators there are in the state of Florida?  Think about it – all of the commercial or industrial buildings with two or more floors, multi-story condos and apartment buildings, hospitals, airports/transportation hubs, and world-famous theme parks rely on elevators and other vertical transportation equipment to ensure the people who live, work, or vacation in the state can get to their destinations quickly, reliably, and most importantly, safely.

If you guessed there were approximately 65,000 elevators in the state of Florida, you’d be right. And wherever there are elevators, there is a need for a highly-skilled, safety-focused workforce to keep them up and running for the people who need them.

Most elevators in Florida are within the jurisdiction of IUEC Local 71, which covers the areas of Miami, Miami Beach, and the greater South Florida region. The approximately 1,100 elevator constructor apprentices and mechanics who are members of Local 71 install, maintain, service, repair, and inspect the majority of them.

“I’m very proud to be a member of Local 71,” said John Herbert, an IUEC elevator constructor mechanic who serves in the top leadership position as the Business Manager for the Local. John has been an elevator constructor for 24 years, and has spent 22 of them in the Miami area. “Our work is our signature. So as long as we do it right – safe – the first time, we’re good. And that’s what we take pride in.”

“We all strive for one common good, and that’s to make sure that all our people go home every day safe and that the riding public continues to be safe every day on our equipment,” said Tommy Scudiero, who is the Business Representative for Local 71.

One of the largest projects serviced by IUEC Local 71 members is the Miami International Airport (MIA). IUEC signatory company Schindler Elevator was recently selected to step in to repair and modernize the aging vertical transportation equipment used by more than 60 million passengers every year.

IUEC members also take care of the elevators, escalators, and moving walks at PortMiami, the busiest cruise terminal in the entire world, which moved close to 7.3 million passengers last year. The vertical transportation equipment at PortMiami is serviced by several signatory companies including TK Elevator and Evolution Elevator, a family-run elevator company that ElevatorInfo profiled as part of a series on exceptional independent companies.

IUEC Local 71 has been around for a long time – it was chartered to be a part of the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) on January 9, 1924. Members of the Local recently celebrated the 100th anniversary with guests and supporters from around the country, including IUEC General Officers Frank Christensen (General President), Jim Chapman (Assistant General President), and Jim Bender (Ret. Assistant General President), along with representatives from the International, Organizing, Safety, the Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund (EIWPF), the @Local 1 Pipes and Drums, and hundreds of brothers and sisters from IUEC Locals in the U.S. and Canada who traveled to Hollywood, Florida for the event the Local hosted in January. Supporting fellow members is a big part of what it means to be a member of the IUEC.

ElevatorInfo was on location in Hollywood to speak with some of the Local 71 members who were involved with planning the event.

“The 100th anniversary is something very special here in Local 71. It’s a century and we want to make sure that we honor everyone that came before us and made that path for what we have today,” said Tommy Scudiero.  “We have to celebrate these milestones and also understand that Local 71 is one of the largest locals in the South and we need to show that and be proud of that.”

In addition to his role as an IUEC Local 71 Business Agent, Tommy gives back to his brothers and sisters in the trade as an instructor for Miami-area elevator constructor apprentices in the National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP), a QEITF Certified Elevator Inspector (CEI), and a member of several American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) building code committees. These committees write the standards for building and maintaining vertical equipment in the United States and Canada. Involvement with the development of ASME building code is important because it helps ensure that elevator constructors and workers from other building trades – along with the riding public – are able to stay safe on and around vertical transportation equipment.

Abel Arabitg, an IUEC International Organizer, is a member of Local 71 who was also in attendance for the 100th anniversary celebration. “I’ve always been a local guy. I grew up here in Miami and never did I ever hear about a union this strong, this well put together and the way that they handle themselves – and I’m so proud of being part of this union,” he said.

Abel emphasized the importance of honoring the elevator constructors who built the Local and strengthened its standing in the community through their hard work and dedication to quality craftsmanship, values the Local continues to uphold today. “We’re here today because of them and what they’ve accomplished in their career to pass on to the next generation. And that’s what I look forward to too, is that I want to make sure that when I step forward into my retirement someday, that I can look back and leave a footprint for those that are coming in in the future.”

John Herbert echoed his remarks. “The last 20 years I’ve grown and become the mechanic and rep that I am today…there are a lot of people I have to thank for that,” he said.

Mike Stella, Local 71’s Financial Secretary and another longtime instructor for the National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP), also helped to organize the event. “This weekend we have the 100th year anniversary. It is such a big achievement for local 71 to (have been) around that long,” he said. “We’re really looking towards the future to make it even better. And it’s super-exciting to be to be part of.”

Along with having taught the Semester 100 apprenticeship curriculum to elevator constructor apprentices for more than 20 years – which he describes as one of his greatest achievements – Mike teaches a train-the-trainer course in SAIA Scaffolding for NEIEP instructors from around the United States at the NEIEP Instructor Training Center in Warwick, RI. Once they’ve completed the training and become certified instructors for SAIA, these instructors return to their home Locals and are able to certify apprentices in SAIA Scaffolding as part of the standard IUEC apprenticeship curriculum. The certification apprentices earn enables them to do scaffolding work on jobsites all over North America. Mechanics can also earn their SAIA scaffolding certifications through continuing education courses held at their Locals.

“It’s important for mechanics to participate in CE training because we never stop learning in this business,” said Mike. “You always are continuously learning systems. Computer systems are changing, elevators are evolving…the more you know, the more important you are to this industry.”

Unmatched craftsmanship, professionalism, a solid educational foundation, showing support for fellow members in the trade, and a focus on safety – these are all part of what it means to be an IUEC elevator constructor and the reason that Local 71 in Miami has sustained for more than 100 years.

To learn more about the advantages of becoming an IUEC elevator constructor, or if you are a building owner or manager interested in hiring an IUEC-affiliated company in the Miami area or anywhere in North America to install, service, troubleshoot, modernize, repair, or inspect the elevators, escalators, or other conveyance equipment on your property, contact ElevatorInfo.