The Oregon State Apprenticeship and Training Council awarded Jennifer Smith her journey-level card Oct. 15 for electrical line work, ending a controversial year during which Smith claims her card was unfairly withheld.
Smith had said that gender discrimination and sexual harassment were behind her failure to graduate from her apprenticeship with the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB). The apprenticeship council has cited poor monthly progress reports given by Smith’s superiors, but in dramatic testimony in a hearing before the state’s Bureau of Labor and Industries, Smith accused one of these superiors of sexual assault.
Smith, the EWEB and the Joint Apprentice Training Committee signed an agreement that resolves all disputes regarding Smith’s employment with EWEB and the training committee. Under the agreement, Smith’s job at EWEB ended Oct. 8, 2010.
Advocates for women craftworkers have said that women are still far under-represented in the building trades. Oregon Tradeswomen Inc. supported Smith’s efforts to receive her journey card.
As a union line worker, Smith is a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
“My hope is to get the [International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers] to be leaders in turning ‘affirmative action’ into ‘affirmative accountability,’” says Smith.