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Sisters represent NERCC at UBC Women's Conference Posted by on

Thirty-one Sisters from New England just returned from the fourth International UBC Women’s Conference held at the International Training Center in Las Vegas. 467 members from across the UBC participated in the learning and networking forum.

A key goal of the conferences is to provide women with tools for becoming involved UBC members. During the conference members were able to meet other Sisters in the Brotherhood committee chairs to exchange ideas and discuss goals; meet with women who are full-time staff on councils across the UBC; attended panels including a contractor panel that discussed maintaining hiring goals; and hear from Senator Amy Klobuchar, the first woman elected to represent the State of Minnesota in the United States Senate, who compared her own experience to that of women working in the trades.

Vi Davis (above), a 22-year members of Carpenters Local 67, attended the conference, and was able to share her unique experience as a member of the union family. Sister Davis proudly brought her son, Isaac, into the union. He is a third-year apprentice out of Local 67. The two currently work together for Manganaro on the UMass Boston General Academic Building project.

Mass Casinos adopt diversity committee Posted by on

The Massachusetts Gaming commission last week unanimously voted to create a committee to monitor diversity within the construction workforce and supplier base for upcoming casino projects. The move was supported by the New England Regional Council of Carpenters and the Policy Group on Tradeswomen's Issues in which the union participates.

The committee will monitor compliance with goals, including maintaining a workforce which includes at least 15.3% people of color and 6.9% women.

NERCC's Elizabeth Skidmore was quoted in the Gaming Commissions announcement of the move, saying: "Bringing more women and people of color into union construction not only strengthens Massachusetts by moving more families out of poverty but also strengthens the industry by building a more diverse workforce."

Graduates begin to build pathways Posted by on

Eight women recently completed the five-week pre-apprenticeship Building Pathways New Hampshire training program. Building Pathways New Hampshire is a cooperative effort of the Carpenters Union, the State Building and Construction Trades Council and the New Hampshire AFL-CIO. It provides pre-apprenticeship training to unemployed and underemployed women in hopes of building the female ranks in the construction industry.

“We are working to diversify our trade and provide a pipeline to all interested and qualified people, which means we end up with the best possible workers, not just some of the best possible workers,” notes Carpenters Local 118 Business Manager Liz Skidmore, who has been active in both local and national "Sisters in the Brotherhood" programs and is helping to coordinate the Building Pathways NH program.

Carpenters Local 118 Business Manager Liz Skidmore speaks to the graduates. 

The five-week course was held at the Carpenters Training Center in Manchester and began on May 12th. The pre-apprenticeship training including OSHA 10, First Aid/CPR, construction math, materials handling, blueprint reading, labor history, blue collar financial planning.

The program aims to introduce participants to the variety of work opportunities available, in a hands-on environment. This training was offered by various trades’ training programs including: Carpenters Local 118, Floorlayers Local 2168, Piledrivers Local 56, Boliermakers Local 29, Heat and Frost Insulators & Allied Trades Local 6, IBEW Local 290, Ironworkers Local 7, Laborers Local 668, Painters and Allied Trades DC 35, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 131, and Sprinklerfitters Local 669.

Building Pathways graduates look at their completion certificates.

“All of these women were either unemployed or were working minimum wage jobs before beginning this pre-apprenticeship program,” notes Skidmore. “They are going from $7.25 an hour with no benefits to starting at $15 and hour plus benefits. This really is moving these eight women into family-sustaining careers.”

All eight graduates have applied to various trades Apprenticeship Programs. Two have already been accepted into the Plumbers and Pipefighters Local 131 Apprenticeship Program.

“Programs like Building Pathways New Hampshire show the community and elected officials a bigger picture about what it means to be union. We want everyone who is qualified, capable and willing to work hard.” 

For more information about the Building Pathways New Hampshire program click here.

NERCC to be recognized at White House Summit Posted by on

The efforts of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, as part of the Policy Group on Tradeswomen’s Issues to increase women’s participation in the construction trades, are being recognized nationally at the White House Summit on Working Families this Monday. NERCC Business Representative Liz Skidmore will represent the NERCC and the PGTI at the event, which is being hosted by the White House and the Department of Labor and the Center for American Progress. Both President Obama and Vice President Biden will be attending the event.

The White House planning committee for the Summit asked the National Task Force on Tradeswomen's Issues for two "Best Practices" for getting more women into the trades. The Task Force presented them with the Minnesota Vikings stadium project, which set hiring goals and has hired a lot of women, and the work being done in New England by NERCC and the Policy Group on Tradeswomen's Issues (PGTI), which is convened by Skidmore, Susan Moir of UMass Boston Labor Resource Center, Brian Doherty of the Boston Building Trades and Janet Jones of the Dorchester Roxbury Labor Committee.

The PGTI has established a multi-stakeholder strategy of bringing key players together over time to build relationships, share expertise, identify and implement solutions. The group has met at the Carpenters Center every other month for six years and includes city, state and federal officials; General and sub-contractors, academics, compliance officers, tradeswomen, and union leaders. During this time they have published two reports: Unfinished Business, an analysis of all research done on tradeswomen in the last 25 years in the US with policy recommendations and Finishing the Job, a how-to manual for meeting hiring goals on specific construction projects. 

Women's employment has risen from 3% to 6% of all hours worked in Boston over the last few years, a statistic made even more significant when considering the simultaneous increase in the number or work hours over the past two years.

Additional work being done by PGTI that has earned them recognition as a national best practice includes moving from 35 years of supply-only (recruitment and pre-apprenticeship training) to a supply and demand strategy that includes the supply work and adds demand - working to improve compliance with hiring goals. As a result of their work, the Integrated Science Center at UMass Boston building project, which is the first project in Boston that has met hiring goals for all three established goals (residents, minorities and women) over the course of the project.

PGTI has also compiled compliance numbers online in searchable, downloadable databases by a number of entities including the City of Boston, UMass Boston (for their $700 mil PLA), and the MA Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards. These databases are now being used by GCs and project owners to review past compliance history and in evaluating which contractors to hire.

As stated on the summit’s website, “the White House Summit will convene businesses, economists, labor leaders, policymakers, advocates and citizen to discuss policy solutions that can make a real difference in the lives of working families and ensure America’s global competitiveness in the coming decades.”

Learn more about the work of the PGTI by visiting their website here. To follow the events happening during the White House Summit on Working Families click here.

New Hampshire begins to build pathways Posted by on

The Building Pathways program, which has earned praise for its work in Boston to publicize apprenticeship opportunities in the building trades within minority communities has been deployed in New Hampshire. The goal in the Granite State is to seek out women who are interested in careers in building trades to participate in a five week pre-apprenticeship program in May and June. Carpenters Local 118 Business Manager Liz Skidmore, who has been active in both local and national "Sisters in the Brotherhood" programs, is helping to coordinate activity.

Two information sessions have already been held and two more are scheduled for March 17 and 24. Yesterday, Governor Maggie Hassan announced plans to visit the March 24 session as a show of support.

Those interested MUST attend an entire information session. Sessions are being held at Plumbers Local 131, 161 Londonderry Turnpike in Hookset from 6-7:30. Late arrivals will not be allowed entrance. No RSVP is required. For more information, contact Liz Skidmore or Joe Gallagher at 603-948-8161 or

A short ad has been produced by the program and is being run on local cable access channels in Manchester, Concord and Nashua.The group has also set up a Facebook page.


Wage equality, training the focus of NH forums Posted by on

People in New Hampshire are learning more about unions and the wage and training opportunities they offer thanks to panel discussions being held, which elected officials and Carpenters Local 118 Business Manager Elizabeth Skidmore.

The forums focus primarily on the wage gap between men and women and are being sponsored by the NH AFL-CIO and New Hampshire Citizens Alliance, which is 23 cents and hour in New Hampshire and 18 cents nationally. While women are still under-represented in construction, Skidmore points out that wage equality is not an issue in the union sector.

“In union construction, women make exactly the same as men,” Skidmore said at one of the forums. “Starting 35 years ago, when women started getting into construction. Every hour we work, every dollar we get paid, we get paid exactly the same.”

In addition to collective bargaining agreements ensuring equal pay, unions also offer apprentice and journey level upgrade classes, which allow for entrance and advancement in the industry. Each of the forums, held in Manchester and Portsmouth, received prominent media coverage, including quotes from Skidmore.

Sisters in the Brotherhood Rebuilding Together Posted by on

A job well done to five union carpenters who volunteered on a Saturday in late April to help Rebuilding Together Boston as part of their National Rebuilding Day. The members, who participated through the Sisters in the Brotherhood program worked together, alongside 30 other volunteers, on the house of an elderly Dorchester resident. 

The Rebuilding Together Boston program works throughout the City of Boston to repair and renovate the homes of economically disadvantaged homeowners including the elderly, veterans, families with children, single parent households, the physically challenged, and others in need. The program also assists non-profit-owned facilities- community centers, schools, worship centers, etc. Services are provided at no cost to recipients due to the generous support of foundations, corporations, vendors and individuals like the carpenter volunteers.

Volunteers on the Dorchester project rebuilt a bulkhead, replaced a number of windows and two doors, patched walls, hung drywall, rebuilt a portion of the kitchen, replaced window and door trim, rebuilt latticework around the foundation, poured concrete for a new sill to the bulkhead, and much more.

Members involved in the effort included Karen Blandino, Local 67; Mary Ann Cloherty, Local 40; Mary Muhler, Local 67; Liz Skidmore, Local 118; and pre-apprentice Kaitlin Medeiros.

SIB lends a hand to RTB Posted by on

Congratulations on a job well done to eight union carpenters who pitched in a lot of time and effort to help the Rebuilding Together Boston Program on their National Rebuilding Day. The women members, who participated through the Sisters in the Brotherhood program, worked on three sites in the city, adding experienced, skilled hands to the effort.

Rebuilding Together Boston works on an annual basis to repair and renovate the homes of economically disadvantaged homeowners (including the elderly, veterans, families with children, single parent households, the physically challenged and others in need) as well as non-profit-owned facilities (community centers, schools, worship centers, etc.) in the City of Boston. RTB provides its services at no cost to recipients due to the generous support of foundations, corporations, individuals and vendors.

This year's projects on National Rebuilding Day included: six homes in Mattapan, Dorchester and Roxbury; Pine Street Inn Veterans’ housing, a residence for formerly homeless women, and the Nazareth Residence for Mothers and Children.

Members involved in the effort included: Joan Bennett, Local 33; Theresa Haymon, Local 33; Maureen Owen-Ewings, Local 67; Marcia Williams-White, Local 33; Karen Blandino, Local 67; Judy Sullivan, Local 67; Mikey Myles, Local 67 and Liz Skidmore, Local 118.



Boston City Council Candidate visits with members Posted by on

Ayanna Pressley, an At Large candidate for the Boston City Council stopped by NERCC headquarters to drop in on a meeting of the Carpenters Women's Committee meeting last night.

Pressley has been endorsed by NERCC and Boston Local affiliates.

For more on Pressley's campaign, visit her website.

Coming attractions Posted by on

Please watch this trailer for the short documentary, "Women in the Trades", coming May 16th, 2009! In the film, eighteen Connecticut women share their stories about entering the trades during the late 1970s/early 1980s.

The documentary will be featured at an event in Connecticut called "Thirty Years and Still Building: Connecticut's Groundbreaking Women Celebrate Their lives in the Trades." It is being organized by the Connecticut State Building Trades and the Permanent Commission of the Status of Women. The event will recognize the first generation of women to work full careers in the building trades and who have retired or are about to retire.

These women came into the trades at a time when their participation challenged industry norms and required major adjustments on the part of most participants.

Among the honorees will be carpenters electricians, laborers, pipefitters, teamsters, and a number of other trades. The event is being held Saturday, May 16 at Zandri's Stillwood Inn in Wallingford, CT. Tickets are $35 each and include full dinner. Tickets can be purchased by contacting Sylvia Michetti of Carpenters Local 24 at 860-442-6655.

Check back here after the event for a look at the full documentary.