Tradeswomen Build Nations Conference empowers women in construction

Mechanical Insulators LMCT | AWF Union Podcast | Tradeswomen Build Nations Conference Empowers Women In Construction

Gina Walsh, Deputy Director of the Mechanical Insulators Labor Management and Cooperative Trust (LMCT), appeared on the America’s Work Force Union Podcast and discussed the Tradeswomen Build Nations Conference – the largest gathering of tradeswomen in the world – held in Las Vegas from Oct. 28 to Oct. 30.

Walsh, who retired after a successful career as a member of Heat and Frost Insulators Local 1, is the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers’ representative on the North America's Building Trades Unions (NABTU) Tradeswomen’s Committee, which hosted the event.

Tradeswomen Build Nations addresses the challenges women face in the workforce

The turnout for this year’s conference was phenomenal, Walsh told AWF host Ed “Flash” Ferenc on Nov. 3. Over 3,000 people registered for the conference. Though official numbers are still being tallied, the attendance was record-breaking, she said. This year was the first time in three years the conference was held in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The event featured speakers from all over the country, including AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler and Vice President Kamala Harris provided a video message. Walsh said it was extraordinary to see the collaborative solidarity of women of all ages bond together and addresses the challenges they’ve experienced in the workforce.

Women of all backgrounds attended the conference, including journeywomen, business agents, union leaders and international presidents. 

On Saturday, the conference held a parade in downtown Las Vegas in which women showcased their pride in belonging to a union. Walsh said she is excited for next year when the conference will be held in Washington, D.C.

No one should have to choose between a job and family care

Walsh also addressed the challenges women face in the workforce, especially access to affordable childcare and the right to maternity leave.

Finding access to affordable childcare can be particularly challenging for women in construction. Schedules start early, the days can be long and women often must travel far to the job site, she said. It can be challenging to find a childcare provider who can accommodate these needs.

It is difficult recruiting women into the trades, but retention can prove to be even more challenging, Walsh said. More needs to be done to facilitate women’s family needs while they are working, she said. No one should have to choose between having a job and caring for their family, she added.

Walsh then shared her own story of getting into the trades. She was the first woman to complete  Local 1’s apprenticeship program. She explained the challenges of being the only woman on the jobsite and the value of having a good-paying career when her husband was laid off from his job.

Listen to the entire podcast.


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