Union Pride

The Summer 2019 IAM Journal will be hitting the doorsteps on IAM members by late May. Here’s a first look at one of several articles in this edition.

Every public building you walk in, whether retail shopping, industrial or manufacturing, is outfitted with a fire suppression system.

Tucked away in a basement or backroom sits a piece of equipment rarely seen by anyone. In the event of a fire, it’s responsible for the protection of the building and everything in it.

How this life-saving system is powered can vary depending on the specific needs of the building. One distinct power source is the diesel fire pump engine. In Cincinnati, OH, 85 members of IAM Local 804 produce this type of fire protection system, making Clarke Fire Protection Products, Inc. a worldwide supplier of superior-engineered products for the industry.

Pride is on full display in this shop. You can see it in the quality of the final product, and hear it in the voices of members when talking about the fire pump engines they assemble.

IAM members working at Clarke ensure that any of the engine systems they make will start and consistently turn the fire pump no matter the conditions in the event of a fire.

Failure is not an option when it comes to fire protection systems. The fire pump engines must start and reach their rated speed within 15 seconds every single time they are called upon.

Diesel engines assembled and tested here are protecting lives and property in facilities all over the world.

IAM members perform many duties outside of production and assembly. Some of the members are technicians and work closely with the company’s engineers in Research and Development Department (R&D).

When Jacob Jones started working in R&D 11 years ago, there were only four people in the department.

“We work on new product development, testing fabrication, and customer support,” said Jones. “In R&D we want to develop new products, make our products better and make the job easier for the people working on the production line.”

Another thing making this facility unique is how they are growing the workforce.

In an economy where outsourcing seems to be the trend, Clarke is doing the opposite. While they strive to keep their costs low to remain competitive, they’ve learned to do it by insourcing work. They look for ways to use the skilled workforce to insource production where possible, giving them better cost and quality control. Because in the business of fire protection, cheaper isn’t always better.

A highly skilled IAM workforce, along with an extremely high-quality product has helped Clarke grow.

When Production Lead Bernie Tucker hired into the shop 41 years ago, it was much smaller.

Tucker’s usually stoic face sneaks a grin as he talks about the part he played in making the company successful, and helping it grow into what it is today.

“There were about 15 of us that worked here, doing all of this,” said Tucker. “At the time it was like a side business for them.”

Not only do the members here take pride in the work they do and the product they make, Clarke takes pride in their union workforce.

Each piece of equipment leaving the Cincinnati facility is proudly outfitted with a large IAM sticker. The distinguishable logo stands out on the bright red engine.

It’s a long-standing practice the company insists on continuing. Having the IAM logo on their equipment in the field shows service providers it’s a union-made product. As a result, their equipment receives high-quality service and care.

Clarke Fire Protection products compete in a global market. Their equipment is found on offshore oil rigs, skyscrapers around the world, schools and airports. As Clarke continues to grow, so does the likelihood that the buildings you visit could be equipped with one of these engines. If that’s the case, know that you’re being protected by an engine built by a skilled, dedicated and proud Machinists Union workforce.

– AH