Wheelchair Ramps: Union-made in the USA

Front Row: Isaac Black (14), Faith Black (17), Recording-Secretary Ed Devault, PDBR Neil Douglas, Contracting Out/Restructuring Chair Mike Burt, Andrew Burt (6), Chloe Burt (11). Back Row: Doug Hayes, Jr., CSC Jason Black, Training Director Greg Swartz, Committeeman Shawn Coffey, Daryl Harris, Veronica Creekbaum, CSC Chair Mike Creekbaum. Not Pictured: VP Andrew Hounshell, Mike Winding and Mike Bare

The Local 1943 Community Services Committee in Middletown, OH, is reviving a nearly 70-year-old tradition of Founder’s Day, an annual event marked by a whirlwind of volunteer activity aimed at helping members of the Middletown community.

Founders Day was first established by George M. Verity, who launched Armco, the predecessor of A.K. Steel, and was well known as a humanitarian. The event was quickly embraced by members of the Armco Employees Independent Foundation (AEIF), now IAM Local 1943.

The Local 1943 Community Services volunteers recently completed their third wheelchair ramp as part of the current Founders Day activities.

The ramp, paid for by union member donations and built completely by volunteers, was for A.K. Steel retiree and IAM member Valerie “Val” Crout. She has a degenerative condition that prompted her retirement and will ultimately leave her wheelchair bound. “There are no words,” said Crout. “There is no way I could have afforded to have this done. My second family, my union, came to the rescue, it’s just amazing.”

That’s what Founder’s Day was all about,” said Committee Chairman and Young Machinists member, Mike Creekbaum. “Doing things for others, good deeds and being helpful, all of which in the end are not just satisfying, but rewarding. All of this is what the IAM motto stands for – Service to the Community.”

Local 1943 members turned the event into a learning experience for family members. “I’m just so proud of my kids,” said Community Services Committee member Jason Black. “Giving up a Sunday – or any free time at their ages to come see what helping others means is rare these days.” Also taking part was Mike Burt’s children, 6 and 11, who learned that union members are people who come to the aid of others in need.

“My thanks to Mike Creekbaum and the entire committee,” said Local 1943 PDBR Neil Douglas. “They’ve taken the idea of Founders Day and made it bigger. They show up when it counts – with volunteers who get the work done, and on their time too. It’s truly priceless.”

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