At the first national conference for women in the trades held on April 30 in Oakland, Calif., more than 625 craftswomen gathered to learn how to boost their share of the workforce. They are not content to see women stuck at 2.5% of the craft union workforce, a national average they say they have not exceeded in 30 years. The meeting, co-sponsored by the AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Dept., included women from the U.S. and Canada.
“The effects of the recession mean a different industry for both men and women,” said Sean McGarvey, building trades' secretary-treasurer, noting more anti-union political rhetoric. “But we still have a lot of work to do.” He said the building trades are developing more pre-apprentice programs and expanding degree offerings in labor management, business administration and construction management at the AFL-CIO's National Labor College in Silver Spring, Md., and online. Support is growing for the Emerald Cities Collaborative program, which creates green jobs in 10 urban areas, McGarvey said. “Our goal is 12 months of work for everybody,” he added.