SBCTC leads on women in construction

November 14, 2017 - Robbie Hunter, the president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council, released the following statement today:

“We at the State Building and Construction Trades Council would like to thank the Select Committee on Women and Inequality for the opportunity to participate in today’s hearing on Occupational Segregation and the Gender Pay Gap.

“Since the early 1980s, the Building Trades of California have been a leader in recruiting women into our industry. Approximately 95 percent of women in construction apprenticeships are in the unionized trades. As of July, there were 1,225 women enrolled in apprenticeship with the 15 individual unions that make up the Building and Construction Trades. We are working hard to make sure that any woman who wants to start a career in the Building Trades – to improve her life and to provide for her family – will have every opportunity to do so.

“The Building Trades unions were among the first that negotiated equal pay for men and women in all positions within the construction industry. This is still a fundamental component of every collective bargaining agreement that we negotiate, from superintendent to first-period apprentice. Equal pay for equal work.

“For 14 years, the SBCTC sponsored the country’s only multi-craft conference for women in the trades. For the past two years, the conference has been held in Chicago. Next year, it will be in Seattle. Tradeswomen from California unions still comprise the largest single state delegation in attendance. This conference has doubled and quadrupled in size and has been a driving force in spreading the word nationwide that women belong in the Building Trades.

 “Across the state, Building Trades apprenticeship programs are doing outreach, organizing career fairs specifically for women, developing mentorship programs, and more. The next frontier is the employers: The Building Trades have pressured construction companies to hire more women, to change the culture on the job site, and to give women more opportunities to become apprentices, journeywomen, forewomen, and superintendents.

“Long-term change in the makeup of our membership starts at the pre-apprenticeship level, the first step toward bringing women into an industry that offers middle-class wages for all workers no matter their educational background, their race, or their gender. These programs give young women and young men a sense of what it's like to work in the industry. They also provide life skills and help them to get their GED, their drivers' license, and assist with child care as needed.

“As hard as it is to come out of high school without a diploma, or even a GED, we know that it is a hundred times worse for a young woman than it is for a young man. It is up to us in the Building Trades to make every effort to reach young women and give them an opportunity to become our members, to become our leaders, and to have success in the construction industry.”

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