Community Event: 4th Annual Event: Solidarity Preserved: Women in the Trades

May 12, 2018 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Walker Ames Room, Kane Hall, University of Washington Campus
15th Ave NE & NE 40th St
Seattle, WA, 98195, Seattle
WA 98105
Puget Sound Socialists (ISO)

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Sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association and others

“Women Have Always Worked,” historian Alice Kessler-Harris reminds us, but with the exception of wartime labor shortages that drafted wartime “Rosies” to the factory floor and new industrial frontiers, a large influx of women entering the building trades did not begin until the 1970s. Even then, women faced tough obstacles in gaining access to union apprenticeship programs, getting dispatched to the jobsite, and often experienced discrimination and harassment when they did get a job. While sexual harassment and discrimination are less acceptable they remain persistent issues. Setbacks in affirmative action laws and recruitment have meant that women in the trades remain at about the same level as the early 1980s: 3% of the construction workforce. Yet, despite their small numbers in the construction workforce, women in the trades have made significant impacts in the industry and in the expansion of access to and rights on the job.

Join us for the Labor Archives of Washington’s Fourth Annual Event on the history of Women in the Trades. LAW’s annual event is a chance to celebrate collections that we have on tradeswomen, invite the community to learn about this important history, and to announce a collecting initiative on women in the trades. It is absolutely critical that this valuable history of the first generations of groundbreaking women is preserved and added to the Labor Archives’ other collections and that the stories of those that came after are recorded and preserved as well. Tradeswomen: Come share your stories and find out about donating collections or scheduling a time to get interviewed by the Labor Archives so that others can learn from your stories!

KEYNOTE Speaker:
Molly Martin, Tradeswomen, Inc. co-founder, author, activist: Molly Martin is a long-time tradeswoman activist, retired electrician and electrical inspector. Martin was the first female electrician for the city of San Francisco. Martin was a co-founder of Tradeswomen, Inc. in 1979 and edited its magazine for 20 years. Martin is editor of Hard-Hatted Women: Stories of Struggle and Success in the Trades. The book includes 26 first-person accounts of women in nontraditional, blue-collar work. A longtime San Francisco resident, Molly now lives in Petaluma, California.

Paula Lukaszek, Plumber; AFSCME 1488 (UW), President:

Randy Loomans, Ironworker, ANEW, WSLC, Ironworkers Local 86 (Seattle): Randy Loomans is one of the first women to complete an apprenticeship in ironworking in the early 80s. She spent 11 years working in the trades and went on to teach pre-apprenticeship training programs for women at Renton Technical College. In 1995, Loomans became the Education and Safety Director for the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. In 2006, Loomans was hired by the International Union of Operating Engineers #302 to be their Director of Government Affairs and worked in this position until her retirement in 2013.

Zan Scommodau, Plumber/Contractor, Zan’s Plumbing: Zan has been a Local 32 plumber since 1979. A laborer in Tacoma’s Local 252 and Local 440 from 1975-1979. From 1993-2014, Zan served as president of Zan’s Plumbing, Inc. Zan is perhaps best known for an ad in The Stranger magazine as the “Rad Dyke Plumber.” Zan was involved in the World Trade Organization Protests in Seattle in 1999, creating art, organizing, and shuttling protestors to support the massive demonstrations that accompanied the WTO’s visit to Seattle. Zan has encouraged many people to consider a career in the trades.