ECA Annual Membership Meeting

The large Bison Elevator Service, Inc. contingent from Buffalo, New York, at the reception: (l-r) Karl Krug, Jim Wacker, Matt Lempke, Joe Pettys, Randy Pawlik, Dave Richmond and Bud Wood

Multiemployer bargaining group hears a variety of reports and enjoys sunny Orlando.

by Lee Freeland

The beautiful Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World hosted the Elevator Contractors of America (ECA) Annual Membership Meeting on March 1-3. Your author was happy to represent ELEVATOR WORLD at the first such meeting EW has attended in many years, especially considering the perfect weather. He was welcomed with open arms by the approximately 75 attendees.

The ECA Board of Directors meeting took place throughout March 1. An evening Welcome Reception followed. Guests filtered in at the poolside “Orb” porch area of the Four Seasons for hors d’oeuvres, drinks and an avocado station.

Kicking off a morning full of interesting presentations, Steven DeGrenier welcomed attendees and introduced Pat Devine, partner at LTR Digital Group, who spoke on “Today’s Digital Customer: How Do You Connect in a Connected World?” His tips included:

  • Always think “mobile first” in website design.
  • Remember, there are only two types of people on the Internet: those who know about you and those who don’t.
  • Ads are necessary now in social media, so unlike the pre-initial-product-offering days of social media sites when organic growth was enough, now, “You’ve got to pay to play.”
  • Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) should be mastered to make and achieve your marketing goals.
  • “Be a data geek” to supplement your search-engine optimization with tools like Google Analytics.

Devine and Mike Klehr also talked about the ECA website ( redesign, expected to be live as of this story’s publication. More functional and attractive, it features a new “Members Area” with more options like forms, letters and agreements.

Ken Richman, ECA legal counsel and member of Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, P.C., then presented “Whatever Happened to Employer Rights? Revisiting Sexual Harassment.” He explained that the Harvey Weinstein verdict and Me Too movement’s persistence bring new ambiguity to what is/is not sexual harassment. He also explained the laws on, updates concerning and things to look for in:

  • Union dues in right-to-work states
  • State of paid-time-off provisions versus paid sick leave
  • The right to reject applicants with criminal histories
  • How biometric data should be used and maintained
  • Substance abuse and legalized recreational cannabis as they pertain to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and mandatory employee testing
  • Employer liability and background checks
  • Restriction on employee use of social media
  • Progressive discipline
  • Types of harassment and what to do when it is discovered and brought to you, as an employer (with many examples)

“The International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) contract has a lot of positives,” Richman added, making the first of several glowing comments on the CBA and other ECA member/union relations over the two days of presentations.

Ed Hoefflinger, representing ECA, then spoke on the ECA “Model Safety & Progressive Discipline Policy,” a useful document member companies can use as a template (in whole or as a starting point) for consistent implementation. Recent changes to it include details on:

  • Heat illness prevention
  • Silica
  • Vehicle policy
  • Incident investigation

Hoefflinger added that not much has happened with OSHA due to a lack of leadership nationally, although local presences are active and strong. Finally, he said an ECA Safety Committee is being formed to revise and enhance the association’s safety policy.

The final day was another morning of presentations (excluding a short, members-only business session), this time from union representatives. Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund (EIWPF) National Coordinator Mark Mullins began by introducing IUEC officers Jim Bender, assistant general president, and Larry McGann, general secretary/treasurer. Bender, who handles arguments and arbitrations, said he’s been pleased to have gone two years since an arbitration. “We’ve been settling problems,” he said. “ECA’s been great in working out problems.” McGann added that ECA meetings are very helpful for all involved.

Rob Betts, executive director of National Elevator Industry Benefit Plans, then spoke on pension plans, which are seeing increases in both hours being worked and active pensioners. However, he added, “There is a big bubble of baby boomers, around 59, who will be retiring soon.” He also covered the statuses of health and other retirement plans.

“IUEC Safety” by IUEC Safety Director Mike Langer covered the OSHA alliance agreement that includes ECA, all union organizations and the National Association of Elevator Contractors. It focuses on communication, safety and training to create “a best-practices safety program on steroids.” He added that, as part of its National Safety Program, IUEC experts are traveling around the country conducting training on safety at various locals. The visits have been well-received.

Langer then showed a touching video of the October 12, 2019, dedication of the IUEC Member Memorial at IUEC’s Columbia, Maryland, headquarters. The memorial honors more than 300 IUEC members killed on the job. Relatedly, IUEC has called for a “Safety Stand Down” event to be held each year on April 28, coinciding with the U.S. Workers Memorial Day and Canadian National Day of Mourning.

IUEC Assistant Director of Safety Randy Storr then explained union training and responsibilities. Extra challenges in working on and installing machine-room-less elevators were also discussed, including such added hazards as barricading lobbies from the public and doing a large portion of work on top of the car. He showed on-the-job fatality data, in which the victims (since 2012) had high average industry experience. He said this indicates the dangers of complacency, on which IUEC continuing education will focus.

Dan Baumann, IUEC assistant director of organizing, updated members on union growth and job wins. The organization is hopeful for further growth in both segments as it rolls out a new database that helps organize and track union members, candidates and more. It was on pace to organize around 600 members, twice the number organized last year.

Allen Spears, Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund (EIWPF) director, detailed progress made by his organization with extensive development of a new website (, “coming soon” as of publication) and the use of targeted grants. Mike Morand, EIWPF assistant director, outlined the QEI Training Fund’s requirements for Certified Elevator Inspectors (CEIs), which has produced 362 CEIs since 2014. Finally, Tom Breindel, National Elevator Industry Education Program (NEIEP) assistant director, talked about the 42 new projects and 44 continuing-education courses from NEIEP.

The audience was very engaged in all sessions during both days and asked many questions, which were usually answered thoroughly by several representatives. The next annual membership meeting is scheduled for 2021 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

About ECA
The mission of the Elevator Contractors of America (ECA) is to foster and promote the elevator industry by obtaining uniformity, harmony and certainty in the relationships between employers and employees by:
♦ Promoting safety in the workplace
♦ Promoting the fulfillment of collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) with labor organizations
♦ Preventing strikes, labor disputes and industrial strife and, when necessary, promoting the settlement of labor disputes
♦ Assisting in administration of grievance and arbitration procedures set forth in CBAs
♦ Conducting investigations in the interest of promoting industrial harmony and the settlement of labor disputes
♦ Cooperating with other organizations in matters of common interest and for proper promotional purposes.
The mission is approved by its board of directors, currently made up of:
♦ Neil Hussey, chairman
♦ Aubrey Jones, vice chairman and nominating chairman
♦ Mark Hertsberg, treasurer
♦ Greg Carlisle, secretary
♦ Don Taylor, annual meeting chairman
♦ Steve DeGrenier, safety chairman, labor chairman
♦ Mike Klehr, membership chairman and
website chairman

Elevator World Senior Associate Editor

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