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Metal workers’ mettle honored

Melissa Topey • Aug 27, 2014 at 2:40 PM

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel honored 17 employees of Mack Iron Works on Wednesday as part of an “Ohio Strong” campaign he launched this week.

Jeffrey Pollack started at Mack Iron Works 49 years ago, at age 19, after he graduated high school. He was then drafted into the Navy, and upon returning from service he went back to Mack Iron, where he’s employed as a welder to this day.

The job has been good to him. He’s now 68 and he’s never been laid off. Everything he learned, he learned on the job.

“I’ve made a good living” Pollack said.

He would recommend a skilled trade for anyone, whether it’s welding, tool and die, machining or the like.

Kyle Capodice, 19, has been on the job one week as a welder at Mack Iron Works. At his family’s suggestion, he trained in welding at EHOVE.

“I like it,” Capodice said. “I plan on staying.”

He’s off to a good start. He and Pollack were among the 17 workers honored with an Ohio Strong award letter from Mandel, a Republican. Ohio Strong is Mandel’s effort to raise public awareness and elevate the reputation of the manufacturing industry’s skilled workers.

John Bacon, Mack Iron’s president since 1989, lauded his team on the factory floor Wednesday before the awards were handed out.

“We are pleased to be honored for our skilled-trade workers at Mack Iron,” Bacon said. “These people are our backbone.”

Mandel shook each honored employee’s hand and thanked them for their work, and he also encouraged them to serve as role models to younger people. He asked them to tout the benefits of a profession in a skilled trade.

“I don’t like the fact that actors and athletes are role models,” Mandel said, adding that athletes can sometimes act like “thugs.”

He added: “I think the best role models are you”

In the time he’s spent crossing the state, Mandel said he’s heard many similar stories of families struggling. Learning a skilled trade in manufacturing is one way to better a family — and better the state’s economy, he said.

Too many young people leave school and end up in lower-paying jobs while companies offering higher-paying trade positions continue struggling to find workers who have the necessary skills, Mandel said.

“If recognizing these folks brings them a sense of pride and inspires young people to go into skilled trades freely, I call today a success” Mandel said.

Democrats, meanwhile, feel “Ohio Strong” is simply an award Mandel has manufactured just in time for his re-election campaign. They allege the awards are simply intended to hide his support for policies that have been harmful to Ohio’s manufacturing industry and its workers.

“This award is just another example of Josh Mandel using the treasurer’s office for his own campaign to hide his record of supporting policies that make it harder for workers to protect their safety, their training, and their ability to provide for their families,” Ken Lortz, UAW Region 2B director, stated in a release.

“Mandel was against the auto rescue package and called saving these manufacturing jobs ‘un-American,’” Lortz stated. “For him to recognize workers on manufacturing jobs that he was not willing to help save is laughable. Ohio workers won’t forget who was there standing up for us, and no gimmick by Josh Mandel when he’s up for election is going to change that”

Mandel said he hopes people will see through the “false political attack.” On Wednesday, he looked around and noticed there was no one else there recognizing Ohioans who work hard.

Mandel said he made the decision to raise the industry’s profile himself.

“I think in general, people are sick and tired of organizations playing politics with their livelihood” Mandel said.

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