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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CLEVELAND UNION EYE CARE CENTER, INC.

CLEVELAND UNION EYE CARE CENTER, INC.

CLEVELAND UNION EYE CARE CENTER, INC., owned and operated by the trade union movement of northeastern Ohio, was created as the result of a study in 1958 of the needs of union members for a comprehensive program of eye care. MATTHEW DEMORE, president of District 54 International Association of Machinists called a meeting of local labor leaders to discuss ways to meet this need. This led to the creation of a nonprofit organization of local unions in which membership fees ("stock") were purchased at a rate of twenty-five cents per union member, with a minimum $25 membership fee for any local business. A goal of $25,000 was set before operations could begin.

In its first year of operation, the Union Eye Center dispensed more than 15,000 pairs of glasses to union members and their families. Some 162,000 union families were affiliated with the program. Expansion occurred rapidly; within one-and-a-half years, a second Center was opened. By 1994 Union Eye Care operated nine locations, with its main downtown location on Carnegie Avenue. At that time, Optometrists working for the Center were independent, leasing space from the organization. By 2005, however, Union Eye Care established a partnership with UHHC, or University Hospitals Health System (UHHS), to provide patients with access to UHHS specialists and surgical treatments for amblyopia, cataract, diabetic, macular, and retinal disorders. Throughout its history, the center has provided the best glasses (as well as hearing aids) at the lowest possible prices for local union members and their families.