It’s true that when you picture a construction site, you probably don’t picture a sea full of women. But just because it’s a traditionally male-dominated industry, doesn’t mean that there aren’t more and more women joining the skilled trades workforce, and for good reason!
Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month, began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. It’s celebrated all over the world, but here in the United States, Black History Month highlights the struggles and celebrates the contributions of African Americans from all walks of life.
Did you know that some of the prominent African Americans in our country were key members of the labor movement? Take A. Philip Randolph, born in 1889, who was head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, President of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and Vice-President of the AFL-CIO's Executive Council. He represented the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in a dispute against the Pullman Company. He was instrumental in convincing President Roosevelt to sign an executive order, in June 1941, which called for an end to discrimination in defense plant jobs. Mr. Randolph chose the labor movement because, “"(t)he labor movement traditionally has been the only haven for the dispossessed, the despised, the neglected, the downtrodden and the poor." As Vice-President of the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council, he worked tirelessly to end discrimination from within the ranks of the union.
More recently, take Madison Burnett. Mr. Burnett is Training Director at the Electrical JATC (Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee) of Southern Nevada. After graduating from Delgado College in New Orleans, Mr. Burnett applied and was accepted into the electrical apprenticeship in 1984 and thus began his journey in the trade. Following his completion of the program in 1994, Madison worked as a journeyman wireman, a foreman, an instructor, and Assistant Training Director before taking his current position as Training Director in 2004.
Mr. Burnett’s dedication to the electrical industry has afforded him the opportunity to serve on the Nevada State Apprenticeship Council, Governor’s Workforce Development Board for the State of Nevada, International Code Council, Southern Nevada Apprenticeship Programs Association and the Advisory Committee with the electrical training Alliance.
As Black History Month comes to a close, we salute the African-American men and women who have strived, suffered, achieved and won. We’re proud that many of them call the labor movement home, and we are ever grateful for their contributions.
What is it like to be a trades worker? First things first, in the construction trades, we work hard to make things that are real. When someone asks us what we do, we say, “I’m a sheet metal worker,” or “I’m an electrical worker.” We never have to say, “I’m an associate marketing coordinator reporting to the assistant vice president of sales.” We make bridges, stadiums, houses, roads, machines, things that are real, things that last.
2020 was quite a year. While it has been trying for all of us, it’s also forced good and needed reflection on what we really value, and what we want from life moving forward, both personally and professionally. Coupled with a new year and the new resolutions that come with it, 2021 is sure to be a year of progress, change, and growth.
Construction trades have always been essential, long before the words pandemic, COVID, quarantine, and coronavirus were part of everyday life. Construction is the lifeblood of our nation’s progress and welfare, providing infrastructure and services that are critical to all aspects of our everyday lives. So when asked “Are Construction Workers Essential Workers?” the answer is a resounding and multifaceted YES!
Opportunities are endless for those who start their career as an electrician through a registered apprenticeship program. Just like most jobs, you get what you put into it. If you set goals and work to accomplish them, you will get where you want to be.
Educational institutions adapted quickly to distance learning due to the Coronavirus pandemic; registered apprenticeship programs have done the same.
For decades, reviews and professional studies that track pay and benefits of various occupations have found that women and minorities are often not compensated equally when compared to their counterparts.
Despite the fact most high school graduates go to a four-year college to pursue a bachelor's degree, a new study has found that completing a registered apprenticeship program in the construction trades leads to higher average pay than the students who are able to obtain a college degree.