I looked at the 256 ft. free standing, tower crane.
I knew that in a day or two, I had to make the climb.
It made me queezy and nervous.
My first time took all the guts, I had in reserve.
I climbed up 100 ft. of structural steel...no hoop ladders,
just iron and cross-section lattice.
Men with vertigo, never make it past the first ten-or-twenty feet.
The inner tower had hoop ladders.
Let me tell you, you breathe a sigh of relief when you make it this far.
At this stage, I was out of breath, and would tie-off for a minute of two.
Then I would climb the remaining 130 to 140 feet to my operator's cab.
I saw the whole city of Chicago from my "perch".
The first few days are kind of un-nerving, but I got used to it.
My free stander was erected outside of the building,
that was to be built. The crane stood alone.
The building would come up floor-by-floor as I poured concrete.
I had to be careful not to knock my concrete man off the columns,
as I swung the bucket his way.
When I worked high steel, I never thought about falling.
I walked many a beam on Chicago's high rises.
Often we were forty-or-fifty floors up.
We walked these beams often leaning into the wind.
Sometimes we walked with our bodies swung sideways to counter the winds.
The men and I who worked these jobs had no fear.
Fear meant death.
I went to night school at my Union Hall in order to take the test,
for my City of Chicago, Advanced Crane Operator's Certification.
I learned about lifting capacities, charts, formulas for weights and shapes of materials to be hoisted. I studied electric-hydraulic systems, motors, and diesel and gas engine construction and operation. I learned to read blue prints, and set up jobs. I learned about cables and drums, and grease fittings, tracks and rollers. I did all of this on my time, after working a ten hour shift on my day job. I studied every night until midnight, then was up at four in the morning for my shift the next day.
Nowadays, some people think that guys and gals like me, make too much money. These people are mostly wealthy corporates, and construction business owners who grant large campaign funds, and promise jobs to politicians in favor of anti-union, "right to work" state legislation. It's sad. We have skills. We union men and women sacrificed many hours to earn our standard of living by becoming proficient in our trades.
The next time you see a tower crane in the city of Chicago, be thankful that you don't live in an anti-union state. I sure wouldn't want an eight-dollar-an-hour "buffoon", flying steel over my gall-darned head! Governor Walker of Wisconsin apparently doesn't see it my way. To me, he is just a rat-type scab, who will get a nice posh job, in some anti-union corporation's office, after he deceives and guts wages from the hard-working middle class. This guy is supposed to be a public servant. He only serves the God of "mammon". Thank God, Governor Quinn is a friend of trade unionism in Illinois. We have no fear of steel falling on our heads, here in this great state! Buy Union! Support Union! Amen.