Oregon Tradeswomen has offered Monthly Social Hours for years as a way for tradeswomen to connect with each other and provide educational experiences through topics and guest speakers. As a tradeswoman, it is commonplace to be the only woman on a jobsite, and the opportunity to connect with other women in the trades is such an important aspect for the retention of women in construction careers.
When the COVID-19 pandemic impacted us last year, our Retention Services Coordinator, Kim Neel, knew it was more important than ever to offer a way for tradeswomen to continue to have an opportunity for support and socializing. With that, OTWednesdays was created, a virtual Social Hour taking place on the third Wednesday of every month!
Unlike past Social Hours, OTWednesdays is more of an open format, with no topics or guest speakers, just pure connection between tradesworkers of all ages and experiences. There is something so special about seeing the mentorship between veteran tradeswomen and those who are just getting started on their paths with the sharing of stories, advice on surviving apprenticeship, and tips on how to earn the respect of their male peers. At a recent social hour, we had a tile-setter named Joanne who had been in her trade since the 1980’s who generously answered questions from some upcoming pre-apprenticeship students who were excited about their new careers, but a little nervous about what to expect. From advice on what PPE (personal protective equipment) to invest in to how to approach learning a new tool, the exchange of information was inspiring to witness and it was clear that the novice tradesworkers there took Joanne’s advice to heart.
A unique aspect of our virtual format is that other supporters of tradeswomen can join in to connect and learn. Sometimes industry partners join to provide opportunities to tradeswomen to advance their careers, offering a foot in the door for elevated positions like Construction Inspector or Surveyor. We have even been joined by regional legislators like Sue Chew, Idaho State Representative District 17, who want to learn more about tradeswomen issues as well as provide resources for professional development opportunities. We are grateful for those in our industry and those who are supporters of the tradeswomen movement for their commitment and involvement.
As the pandemic begins to wind down and we look to the future for what is on our horizon, we are evaluating how to best offer support to tradeswomen. While we cannot wait to host Social Hours in our own building, we have seen the value of providing a virtual space for tradeswomen and their supporters to gather and collaborate. Many tradeswomen are tired after a long day of hard work and to have to go home, change out of their work gear, and head out to a social gathering is not always easy. But, to be able to settle in to a comfy chair after work and simply log in to Zoom, the opportunity to socialize is available to a wider community of tradesworkers and their supporters!
The connection between tradeswomen is so valuable, and our goal is to offer easy access to a supportive community that can provide advice and camaraderie. Being a tradeswoman is a unique experience and the hurdles that can come with it can become more manageable when there is a place for others with similar experiences to gather and socialize.
Tradeswomen Build Nations (TWBN) is the largest annual gathering of tradeswomen from all around the world to connect, network, and be inspired to take the next steps in their careers and in their Unions.
The 2021 event happens October 1 – 3 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The North American Building Trades Union will make an official announcement in July about how TWBN will happen this year – in person or online.
Regardless of whether TWBN is virtual or in person, don’t hesitate to begin discussions with your local leaders about participating in the conference! Here are links to important resources to help in the process:
Build With Us!, Oregon Tradeswomen’s third annual Blue Collar Gala, was filled to capacity with excitement, generosity and a few happy tears! YOU turned out in force with an overwhelming outpouring of support that exceeded our goal and will help set us up to serve even more tradeswomen in our new training facility in January. The incredible spirit of community and unwavering commitment to equity, inclusion, and economic justice is humbling.
Congratulations to four incredible people, nominated by the industry and awarded for their commitment to being leaders in their trades. Valerie Curbelo, Shaz Lynch, Sara Moore, and Aisha Winters (Not Pictured) were selected for the award by Oregon Tradeswomen’s Board of Directors, not an easy feat considering the field of 27 exceptional nominees.
Two new honors were also awarded this year: The Equity Partner Award and the Wanda Hall Legacy Award. The Equity Partner Award was given to Rod Belisle, Training Director at the NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center, to honor his commitment to increasing diversity in the electrical trade, and for being an incredible partner to Oregon Tradeswomen.
The other new award in 2019 was a posthumous award presented to the daughters of Wanda Hall of the Portland Water Bureau. Wanda’s enthusiasm and dedication to uplifting women in the trades through support and mentorship will be missed. Starting in 2020, Oregon Tradeswomen will solicit nominations for the Wanda Hall Legacy Award to honor other women in the trades whose commitment to informing and mentoring the next generation stands out. Oregon Tradeswomen salutes all the winners and nominees for their perseverance, passion, and grit, and thank them for their many contributions to our community, industry, and movement.
The staff and board of Oregon Tradeswomen thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your generosity – helping us build the future home of Oregon Tradeswomen and increasing our capacity to help more women change their lives. Thank you for helping us pave a pathway to prosperity for the women who want to work in construction and a brighter future for our region’s construction workforce and industry.
We hope you had a wonderful time and we look forward to seeing you next year!
On September 28, 2018, Oregon Tradeswomen is hosting our 2nd annual Build With Us! Blue Collar Gala and this year we will be announcing the winners of the 2018 Woman on the Rise awards! These awards were conceived last year as a part of Women in Apprenticeship Day to honor exceptional women in the industry and we wanted to celebrate their accomplishments this year with a larger audience. Here are the 20 women who were nominated by their unions, employers, and peers as Women on the Rise:
Journeyman Laborer, LiUNA Local 737
Aida Aranda started her journey as a laborer with LiUNALocal 737. She proved herself on the field as a journeyman laborer and then worked her way up into management. Aida has worked as a Dispatcher, Apprenticeship Coordinator, Organizer, and is currently the Director of the Oregon Laborers Apprenticeship and Training Program. She has proved herself to be a natural leader and a mentor to all.
Laborer Apprentice, LiUNA Local 737
Gabrielle Cowan is a go-getter Laborer with Liuna Local 737. Still an apprentice, Gabi is giving the men on the crew at Mortenson a run for their money. She is already a skilled concrete hand and leaves a trail of workers behind her questioning their own abilities when working alongside her. She does her job well, with passion and precision, putting her far ahead of her peers.
Journeyman Inside Wireman, IBEW Local 48
Sara Currie is an Inside Wireman with Local 48 who has worked her way up to Safety Director at the NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center. Her motivation and commitment to the industry has gained her the respect of her peers as well as the NIETC Health and Safety community.
Sheet Metal Workers, Local 16
Kerri Danay is a Sheet Metal apprentice with Local 16. Kerri was nominated by her peers at McKinstry Co who said that, as a new apprentice, Kerri showed great potential. As she progressed through her apprenticeship, this potential was proven to be more than true. Kerri is a smart, hard working individual and has gotten positive feedback from every foreman she has teamed up with who note that she learns quickly, works safely, is highly productive and is always equipped with a good attitude!
Line Worker Apprentice, IBEW Local 387
Aisley Deymonaz was nominated by a Crew Foreman from Arizona Public Service Electric Company (APS) who met Aisley when she was just a pre-apprentice. Aisley’s dedication, integrity, and great attitude immediately stood out to her foreman and he recognized her as #1 out of the 700 young adults who try to get an apprenticeship with APS. She excels at everything she attempts and was the only woman on the 2017 APS Lineman’s Rodeo team where she got 1st place in the hurt man rescue. Her passion was apparent early on to the Brotherhood and they uncharacteristically welcomed her with open arms. Aisley is someone who has earned the respect of a trade that is suspicious of outsiders and broke the mold of what it takes to be a Line Worker.
Journey-level Plumber, Area 1
Danielle Elowe’s apprenticeship program is grateful to have her as she is always willing to help promote the program by putting on workshops and helping with speed mentoring which has helped draw more women to the plumbing trade. Her employer, Weekend Plumber, even gets regular calls from clients who have nothing but wonderful things to say about their experiences working with Danielle!
Apprentice, Sheet Metal Workers, Local 16
Jinnie Freeman was nominated by her union, Local 16, who describe her as an instrumental and integral part of the union. She puts her heart into anything she does and is a top tier student. Jinnie holds the position as co-chair for their new Minority and Women’s Committee where she organizes and runs meetings as well as always offers help and resources for members in hardship. She even volunteers with Oregon Tradeswomen to support the women who are on their way to starting a career in the skilled trades. Local 16 knows she has a bright future within the union and the industry!
Flagger and Business Owner
Sandra Holguin started her own company, IQ Traffic Services, after disappointment with the lacking of quality employees at a flagging company. She is dedicated to provide a safe work environment for her employees and made sure they had steady employment, housing assistance, and even offered financial assistance. Her big heart and boldness have lent a hand in her success as an entrepreneur!
Ann Lawson began her work at Lovett Deconstruction in the field as a crew member. After 9 months, Ann had the opportunity to move up and into the office as an Estimator. In her new role, Ann went above and beyond and quickly took charge of organizing lead meetings, strengthening office culture, insisting on protocols and processes that improve transparency, communication and career mobility within the company. Her dedication to making Lovett a forerunner as an equitable place for women in the trades has been a hallmark of her management. Now as a Project Manager, Ann continually strives to bring a positive, solution-oriented, and team-centered perspective to her work. She contributes exponentially to both the functionality of the business and the quality of its culture, using her brilliant observation, incisive questions, ability to analyze information and situations, and daily joy.
Journey-level Laborer, LiUNA Local 737
Irene Mcguire’s work at Anderson is recognized because no matter the task, Irene will make it happen. Her excellent work ethic and drive for success has left an impression on everyone who has worked with her.
Powerline Clearance Tree Trimmer Apprentice, Local 125
Local 125 details that Saylor Neher is an outstanding apprentice and is ahead of the pack in skill and maturity. Saylor repeatedly overcomes obstacles with tenacity and has won over her peers with her winning attitude and solid work ethic. Recently, Saylor proved herself with her impressive results in the PNW Lineman’s Rodeo including an awesome 55′ foot-locking demonstration!
Painters Apprentice, IUPAT Local 10
Andrea Presler is said to excel at everything she does and seems to have a natural talent making everything look easy. Leadership comes as second nature to her which goes hand in hand with her deep caring for others. Not only does she already have all her certifications, but she has performed on such a high level that the company she works for pays her at a level that only journeyman make!
Elizabeth “Tissi” Snelson
Carpenter Instructor, Carpenters Local 1503
Elizabeth “Tissi” Snelson is very involved in her union and since its inception, Tissi has organized the 1503 Pride float. Now, Tissi works at Angel Job Corps as a UBC Carpenter Program Instructor and is excelling in her field!
Journey-level Laborer, LiUNA Local 737
Jani Turner is a journey-level Laborer at Anderson Structures. Her peers at Liuna Local 737 nominated her as a Woman on the Rise because she is a skilled worker, a leader by example, and a caring teammate. She prioritizes her women’s group, Liuna Women @ Work, and is often used as an example of someone who has found great success in the trades. As someone with a difficult past, Jani uses her own experiences to relate to others and speaks up on behalf of those who haven’t yet found their own voice. She passes on her knowledge by going out of her way to teach, help, and lead others around her.
Journey-level Drywall Finisher, IUPAT Local 10
Stephanie Vasquez is a journey-level Drywall Finisher with Local 10 who recently graduated from the Drywall Finishing Apprenticeship. She is said to be an outstanding journey-woman at Cascade Acoustics and actively promotes and recruits women for the Drywall program. Only three years in, Stephanie has already found her stride as a drywall finisher.
Jess Giannettino Villatoro
Political Director, Oregon AFL-CIO
Jess Giannettino Villatoro worked her way up the AFL-CIO because of her passion for workers rights. She exemplifies leadership and is an advocate and ally for all in the construction community. Jess’s persistence in fighting for fair wages, equal opportunities, and protection for families has led to her success.
Journeyman Plumber, Area 1
Erin West’s apprenticeship program is grateful for her help in recruiting women for their program. Erin’s employer, Meticulous Plumbing, says that she is excelling in her field and overcomes prejudices of past generations. She continually receives positive feedback and it is clear that she is extremely proud to be a plumber. In her heart, she is setting the path for today’s young women to succeed in the trades.
Journey-level Operating Engineer, IUOE Local 701
Even though she comes across as reserved, Melinda is a highly driven woman that goes for what she wants until she achieves it, no matter how long it takes. Local 701 deeply values Melinda’s work within the union as she is dedicated to doing outreach to other women who are curious about a career in the trades.
Journey-level Electrician and Solar Installer
Sondra Winters is a Journey-level Electrician and Solar Installer with the Energy Trust of Oregon. She is a licensed journeyman in Oregon and Washington as well as holds a State of Alaska Electrical Certificate of Fitness. Being able to work in multiple states makes her a great asset to her employer as well as her attention to detail and leadership in whatever crew she is working with. She regularly gets rave reviews from customers for going above and beyond. Sondra also is an active member of her community, organizing rafting trips, hikes, and volunteering with Girls Build.
Journey-level Roofer, Roofers Local 49
Suzanne’s union, Local 49, nominated her because everyone from her apprenticeship peers to her instructors enjoyed her presence in the program. She grew to become an excellent mentor to others and even takes time off from work to do outreach in the community for new female apprentices. Her work is decorated as she graduated among the top of her class and took 1st place in the 2017 West Coast Roofers Apprenticeship Competition. The International Union Office is even flying her back to Washington DC to do an article on her for her progress and help in recruiting for a more diverse workforce!
On September 3rd, 2018, 27 teams of four gathered at the Eastbank Esplanade to compete in Lovett Deconstruction‘s Dropbox Derby, a building competition in the style of Iron Chef. Just 24 hours prior to the event, teams were given the theme, “A Seat at the Table,” and an inventory of salvaged materials was delivered. Actual building-time was limited to 4 hours – afterward, these finished products would be judged and then auctioned off, with the proceeds going to support Oregon Tradeswomen.
The morning kicked off with a spirited pep talk by Lovett Deconstruction’s Der Lovett, and at 10:00 a.m. sharp, the teams hurried over to the piles of materials and gathered their share of supplies. The next 4 hours was a flurry of sanding, sawing, staining, drilling, and hammering, as teams were feeling the pressure of 4 hours that felt more like 30 minutes!
Oregon Tradeswomen competed this year, too. The team of 4 was comprised of two board members, Moe Gauthier, and Meghan Moyer, and two staff members, Abby Bandurraga, and Trytten Tehrani. The team’s concept for “A Seat at the Table” was a hexagonal children’s picnic bench where everyone is the head of the table. The table top had a geometric inlay of wood of different colors representing the unity between all the different people who share the planet.
The level of artistry and craftsmanship at the Dropbox Derby was impressive. Many spectators wove through the Eastbank Esplanade observing the teams diligently working together to assemble their unique projects piece by salvaged piece. Once the building portion was complete, judges filed through to talk to each team about their finished products. The judging criteria included Aesthetics, Creative Use of Materials, Craft, and Theme.
There were many different ways in which teams interpreted “A Seat at the Table.”
With an honorable mention, Team OG crafted a tabletop with the image of a woman with outstretched arms which intended to symbolize welcoming everyone to the table.
In 3rd place, Team Feathered Caulk decided to challenge themselves and build the most complex type of table they could imagine: a fully functioning Foosball table!
In 2nd place, Team Neil Kelly, built a beautifully designed bench made up of two seats facing opposite directions, with their arm rests joined together to make a table.
In 1st place, Team Engaging Environments built a table with a seat within it. The seat represents the patriarchal oligarchy in which we live. Half of the table is not seen on the surface, but it functions by holding the rest of it up. This represents workers of all genders and ethnicities who are an essential part of our social systems, but are often unheard. This project was also honored with the People’s Choice Award.
The Dropbox Derby is an experience like no other. Vast imaginations, great skill, and fierce teamwork all came together to create stunning structures with a message. We are so grateful to Lovett Deconstruction for organizing this stupendous event and for honoring Oregon Tradeswomen by naming our nonprofit organization as the beneficiaries of the auction proceeds.
Oregon Tradeswomen is grateful to all 27 teams for their creativity and talent, as well as all those who came out, cheered on, and bid on these handmade masterpieces. We are so lucky to have this community and we cannot wait to see what is in store for next year!
Women Build Nations is an annual conference where more than 1,900 tradeswomen from around the globe, representing every craft, come together for a weekend of workshops, plenary sessions, and networking. Women Build Nations welcomes all women of all ages and skill levels to come build relationships, learn from each other, and be a part of the largest conference for tradeswomen in North America.
This year the conference is being held in Seattle, Washington, so Oregon Tradeswomen staff will be heading North for Women Build Nations as a group and we would like to ride with a tradeswomen contingent! Please join us on Friday October 12 on the 12:00 pm – 3:30 pm train. Amtrak is also offering a 10% discount, but you must call to make your reservation at 1-800-872-7245 using code X90H-999. For additional travel information and resources, please visit the Women Build Nations website.
Oregon Tradeswomen is happy to offer two scholarships for tradeswomen who want to attend Women Build Nations. If you’re interested, please send email to Tiffany Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Scholarships are offered on a first come, first served basis. If you haven’t asked your union or employer to send you yet, now is the time to get it done! Women Build Nations has online resources to help you write a letter requesting sponsorship.
Women Build Nations is the biggest tradeswomen focused convention in North America and this year it is in our backyard. We hope to see you there this October!
Lovett Deconstruction announced its first ever Dropbox Derby in 2017 and it was a rousing success! Now an annual event, Lovett’s Drobox Derby hosts thirty teams, comprised of 2-4 people, and the teams have four hours with identical packages of salvaged materials to build on a theme. Last year’s concept was “Bridge House” which led to creations such as these:
After the building portion, a panel of three judges come to an agreement as to which finished products win each of the three top design awards! Watch the 2017 Dropbox Derby video.
The concept for Dropbox Derby came from Der Lovett, the owner of Lovett Deconstruction. He wanted to do something with all the salvaged wood that came from old deconstructed Portland buildings as well finding as a way to participate in PDX Rust’s Portland ReUse for Societal Transformation: A Week of Neighborhood ReUse Events. Last year’s event was such a success that they will be hosting the event again during the 2018 Portland ReUse for Societal Transformation.
This event is free and open to the public, featuring excellent food, local ciders, live music, and an opportunity to bid on any of the finished products! It’s like an Iron Chef for builders mixed with a block party! And the best part is that all the proceeds will go to support Oregon Tradeswomen and our mission!
We hope to see you out there on Monday, September 3rd, from 10am-6pm to support Oregon Tradeswomen and your favorite builders at this unique event! Join the event on Facebook!
Our friends at the NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center (NIETC) are committed to offering education and providing resources to help more students and career seekers access careers in the skilled trades through registered apprenticeship!
This year, they are organizing four informational panels which will provide a general overview of apprenticeship and an open discussion with Apprenticeship Coordinators from specific trades. Attendees will have an opportunity to connect with the Apprenticeship Coordinators and network with others at the event.
The dates for the Informational Panel for the Union Building Trades Apprenticeship Programs are as follows:
September 7, 2018
9:30 – 11:00am
Portland Sheet Metal Institute
2379 NE 178th Ave
Portland, OR 97230
Pre-registration is not required!
December 3, 2018
Two identical sessions:
Career Technical Education Center
3501 Portland Rd NE
Salem, OR 97301
Pre-registration for the general public is required unless you are a CTEC student or have arranged to attend through your Salem-Keizer school.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden held a press conference on Thursday, February 1, 2018, about the dire need for federal funding to fix roads and bridges not only in Oregon, but across the United States.
The press conference took place at the Marquam Bridge, one of the bridges in Multnomah County in need of structural reinforcement in the case of a seismic event. Nearly all of Oregon’s major construction unions were represented at the event, as well as Oregon Tradeswomen’s Executive Director, Kelly Kupcak.
Senator Wyden addressed President Trump’s purported intention to raise $1.5 trillion to fix our nation’s failing infrastructure. Senator Wyden said, “The way you improve bridges and roads and do all the great work these people do is with real federal dollars… We still haven’t heard from the president and the Republicans how that’s going to happen.”
Sources from the Trump administration claim that only $200 billion would come from the federal government, putting the pressure on state and local governments to raise the rest of the money. Since 2003, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has been making major efforts to fix Oregon’s bridges and even with the $5.2 billion plan approved by state legislature in 2017 to invest in our infrastructure, federal aid is needed to truly strengthen our roads and bridges to the extent needed.
In 2009, Senator Wyden authored the bi-partisan Build America bonds program that successfully generated $181 billion for public works projects and created 3,500 jobs in Oregon. Now, the Senator is calling on the current administration to help fund the rebuilding of the nation’s infrastructure by endorsing a plan to use some of the $2.6 trillion coming back into America’s economy as a result of the tax cuts implemented in December 2017.
Investing in infrastructure not only improves our local and national economy by creating jobs and reliable mobility for people and businesses, but it is also a critical issue of public safety. We applaud Senator Wyden for his efforts in making sure that funding to maintain a strong infrastructure for our country is a priority for our government.
The University of Oregon Labor Education and Research Center (LERC) is holding a special Black History Month Event!
February 8, 2018
6:00 pm to 8:30 pm
White Stag Building Room 142/144
70 NW Couch Street
Portland OR 97209
LERC will be honoring Donna Hammond for her continued efforts to make the trades a safer place for women, people of color, and other minorities. There will be a special viewing of the film “Sista in the Brotherhood” by Dawn Jones Redstone followed by a panel discussion with Dr. Roberta Hunt of Portland State University and honoree, Donna Hammond, Business Representative for IBEW 48.
Donna began her career in the trades 39 years ago as an apprentice electrician and became Oregon’s 2nd ever black woman to journey out as an electrician. During her time in the trades, Donna faced discrimination and harassment from her coworkers and even supervisors. As a result of her experiences during those 20 years where she was a union electrician, Donna took it upon herself to blaze a trail for marginalized people so that they could pursue a career in the skilled trades without fear of harassment.
Hammond joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) as their first black female Business Representative and negotiates contracts and inspects job sites among other things. Outside of her work there, she has been a member of the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus for the past 22 years and has spent the past 3 years with the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. Not only that, but Donna Hammond played a key role in the development of our Pathways to Success program here at Oregon Tradeswomen.
We have immense respect for Donna and the impact she has made. Thank you for your continued work making the trades a safe place for women and diverse workers!