Forty five year old Lori Bauman is a brilliant tradeswomen, vegetarian, animal lover, gardener, and above all, a skilled story teller. She was born in the deserts of California and moved around a lot as a child, settling in Atlanta, GA for the bulk of her early adulthood. She remembers her time in Georgia fondly but also shared that living in the South as a Queer woman proved difficult at times. She also noted that Georgia was the last place she lived before making the decision to change her lifestyle and get sober.
Lori held a myriad of service industry jobs in her life and worked at a Starbucks as a barista for many years. In her quest for recovery, she transferred to Portland 8 years ago, where she got sober. While working at Starbucks, making $200 a week, Lori saw an ad for Oregon Tradeswomen and didn’t waste any time signing up. This day changed Lori’s life and began her lifelong love affair with supporting her fellow tradeswomen and diversifying the industry.
After graduating from OTI’s Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class (TACC) at the age of 35, Lori planned to pursue a career with the Laborers Union and entered the Laborers Boot camp. Lori entered the boot camp with 22 of her peers and made it to graduation as one of only 6 women who finished. She was confident that her ability to complete the boot camp was a positive indicator that she could make it in the industry but she was unable to find work due to the slow times of the great recession. As an alternative, Lori chose to enter an open shop sheet metal apprenticeship. During this time, Lori unfortunately endured unsafe working conditions and constant harassment and bullying from her male coworkers. On top of this, she felt pitted against her female peers on the job site as well, due to what she calls a survival tactic on the work site where women separate from each other in order to try and integrate into the male-dominant culture of the industry. Consequently, she felt very alone and was losing her drive to continue on in a field that was so hostile to women. She ended up getting laid off after about 6 months on the job and didn’t have any plans to return.
During this time Lori called Aida Aranda at the Laborers Union to ask if they had any work for her and was brought on as a Union Laborer Apprentice with a $6/hour pay raise. Her first job was on the Bonneville Dam, working almost entirely underground pouring concrete. Though her days often started at 4:00-5:00 in the morning and she was exhausted by the end of the work day, she noticed many differences from her previous job. Most importantly she felt much safer on the job site and was inducted into a different culture in which she was part of a family; though she still had to work very hard to prove herself on the job site to earn the respect she was given. After this job was completed, Lori went on to work on many bridges in Oregon spanning from The Dalles to the Portland Metro Area. She journeyed out while working on the Oregon City Bridge in 2012. During her best year as a laborer, she brought home nearly $71,000 dollars.
Throughout her career as a Tradeswoman Lori has remained a great friend and supporter of OTI and has worked hard to connect with and support other local tradeswomen. Her deeply held belief that one must “lift as they climb” has been integral in her life in order to support other tradeswomen. In her words it is imperative that “women must always believe their fellow tradeswomen, have their backs, and be there for one another”.
About three years ago, Aida Aranda contacted Lori and asked her to apply for her position, which she was leaving, as an Apprenticeship Coordinator for the Laborers Training Center. Lori reported that she knocked the interview out of the park. Although she didn’t get this position, this interview and her positive ties with many people in the community, she was invited to several more interviews before landing her current position as a Field Representative for Liuna Local No. 737.In her role, she spends her days driving to various job sites to ensure that union contracts are being upheld, provides conflict mediation when necessary, and acts as an advocate for the workers on site. Lori works in a very inclusive office where she feels her voice is heard and respected and she loves the freedom her job affords. She also believes that she is in a position where she can help create tangible change in the culture of the union that she was unable to do working on the front lines as a laborer. Not only does Lori love her new job, but it also pays leaps and bounds higher than her highest pre-trades industry wage of $9/hour. She feels incredibly happy to have a sense of financial security higher than she ever imagined she would have without a college degree.
When asked what advice she has for future tradeswomen, Lori replied “Be sure that it’s what you want and then go hard and fast at it”. As for her future career plans, Lori wants to be the best at what she does as a Union Field Representative. She also wants to lead social change within and between unions and someday she would love to step into a leadership role within the union. She states that positive culture shifts are already happening within the leadership of the union and she hopes to help trickle these changes down to all members, so that everyone in the industry feels they are respected and safe on the job site no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation or nationality.
For Lori, her recovery from drug and alcohol abuse and being a tradeswoman are her two most passionately held identities. They give her a sense of a higher purpose and she spends as much time as she can giving back to fellow tradeswomen and people seeking their own recovery.
We are so excited to announce that Lori has recently accepted a seat on OTI’s Board of Directors! She states that she feels very lucky and honored to be invited to hold a seat on the board and intends to keep the seat warm for as long as she is able. We at OTI have no doubt that Lori will be a force to be reckoned with in the industry and we are incredibly proud that she started her journey with us!