Date: Mon, 4 Mar 1996 05:47:41 -0600
From: L-Soft list server at MIZZOU1 (1.8b) <>

--> Database ACTIV-L, 8510 hits.

> print 08442
>>> Item number 8442, dated 96/03/02 06:53:11—ALL
Date: Sat, 2 Mar 1996 06:53:11 GMT
Reply-To: Rich Winkel <>
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
Organization: PACH
Subject: Construction Union Women Get Stronger

,p> /** headlines: 143.0 **/
** Topic: Construction Union Women Get Stronger **
** Written 9:01 AM Mar 1, 1996 by newsdesk in cdp:headlines **
From: IGC News Desk <>
Subject: Construction Union Women Get Stronger

/* Written 5:42 AM Feb 29, 1996 by labornews in igc:women.labr */
/* ---------- Construction Union Women Get Strong ---------- */
From: Institute for Global Communications <>
Subject: Construction Union Women Get Stronger

Women in construction strengthen union roles

By Juliet F. Brudney, IGC Newsdesk, 27 February 1996

The number of women in Boston construction work is small but their achievements aren’t. They’re moving up career ladders, working together to increase job opportunities, and strengthening their union roles.

Two Boston locals have a substantial number of women members, reports Boston Tradeswomen’s Network. Carpenters Local 218 has 70, Electricians Local 103, 60. And more women are being elected and appointed to office in several unions (423-1535, TWF, Roni Thaler).

BTN was launched in 1990 to help women get jobs they qualify for and fair treatment at work. It now also trains in leadership skills to help women participate more effectively in their unions, says BTN board chairwoman Elizabeth Skidmore, a carpenter.

Its registry of 600 union and nonunion tradeswomen (years in the trade, union certificates, etc.) is used by compliance officers and contractors to fill jobs, says Skidmore. They contact BTN on what they need, a match is provided from the Registry. No one any more can say they can’t find qualified women, minorities, community residents.

A leadership course of eight weekly 6:30-9 p.m. sessions deals with parliamentary procedure, public speaking, conflict resolution, other skills that, help women know what’s going on at union meetings, how to take a stand. 99 percent are afraid to speak out in fear of never working again, says Skidmore.

Union participation is a priority for carpenter Cheryl Lieteau. She took COMET, a union training program, to learn to work for the union in your town. You keep in touch with union contractors, members, agencies, there, about bids, contracts going out, try to get language in them on fair wages, training, hiring women, minorities, residents.

Lieteau apprenticed from 1990-1994, became a journeywoman at $23.74 an hour plus benefits. The training was excellent. I worked steadily all that time except for a total of five months, had 50 weeks of work last year. She was laid off a few weeks ago.

Working mostly with men is no problem. In fact, I enjoy it. Our personalities click. I`m not too fearful, not too forceful. You need a sense of humor. And I really like the respect I get.

Electrician Vicki Fortino, a foreman, earning over $30 an hour, has worked steadily at Mass. Electric Construction for 10 years. I wouldn’t have made it apprenticing (1982-1986) without help from wonderful women ahead of us and a great union training director.

I’ve had lots of opportunities since to work with great people and to learn. But you work very hard and still must be twice as good as a man. Maybe it’s the economy, but I see less women at work sites these days. There’s a need to push harder for compliance with hiring goals. Not many of us would be here if it weren’t for affirmative action. The worst problem today is unemployment. Work is shrinking for all of us.

Judi McCormick, a plumber, was laid off Jan. 31. I’m at a crossroads. I still love the work. The pay is good, about $26 an hour. But I worked only five months last year. When I apprenticed (1989 to 1993), I was working about 40 weeks a year. She was a superior student, very, very bright recalls her teacher, Joseph Conley, now Plumbers Local 12 training director.

Men are out of work, too, says McCormick. But contractors are skittish about women, fear we can’t do the work. A man has a better shot. One of few women in the local, she seeks work by going to the union’s hall, meetings, job sites and contractor’s offices. They claim they don’t have jobs. I suspect hiring goals aren’t being met.