BUD program, IBEW Local 1 contractor also recognized at awards gala
Five local building tradeswomen, the Building Union Diversity (BUD) program and IBEW Local 1 signatory contractor Avid Electric received top honors at the Missouri Women in Trades (MOWIT) Inaugural Blue Collar/Black Tie Awards Gala.
The sold-out event, celebrating tradeswomen’s achievements and the great strides made by local contractors and unions to support women in the building trades, was held late last year at Sheet Metal Workers Local 36’s Grand Hall in St. Louis. Some 400 people attended the gala.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with the event’s turnout and the support we received from the building trades and other unions, Labor organizations and local contractors,” said MOWIT President Beth Barton. “Their support along with the tireless efforts of our board and volunteer members made the event a resounding success.”
In a surprise move, MOWIT presented Missouri Sen. Gina Walsh (D-Bellefontaine Neighbors), who served as the event’s keynote speaker, with a Lifetime Achievement Award for being a pioneer in the St. Louis-area tradeswomen’s Labor Movement.
“She has paved the way for tradeswomen of the future and has been a champion for working class people for years,” said Sheri Gassaway, a MOWIT board member who served as the gala’s emcee. “No matter how busy she is, she always takes the time to answer the phone and say ‘How can I help you sister?’ She’s a woman of many firsts.”
Walsh, who served as the first female president of the Missouri State Building and Construction Trades Council, is the first woman to go through the Heat & Frost Insulators Local 1 apprenticeship program. She draws upon her more than 30 years in the union to mentor women currently in the trades.
“There is nothing more gratifying than being recognized by your peers,” Walsh said. “To the younger women in the room, remember to continue to build on our stories. This is so cool.”
TRADESWOMAN OF THE YEAR
Cindy Frank, a journeywoman carpenter with 40 years of experience who was elected last year as the first female president of Carpenters Local 945 in Jefferson City won the Tradeswoman of the Year award.
Frank is the first woman to serve as president of a local union within the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council, and coordinator for Sisters in the Brotherhood (SIB) of the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council.
“Look around this room,” Frank said. “Tradeswomen and tradeswomen supporters everywhere. It does my heart good to see the diversity and inclusion coming alive in the construction industry. Women can be and are remarkable tradesmen.”
TRADES WOMAN OF THE YEAR HONORABLE MENTIONS
Kim Sachse, a 15-year member of IBEW Local 1 who works at National Electric, received a Tradeswoman of the Year Honorable Mention. Sachse completed both the Local 1 Residential and the Communication Journeywoman Technicians apprenticeship programs, showing a great amount of dedication to the industry.
She has also dedicated her time to a wide variety of union and charitable events, including: union meetings, Rebuilding Together, Habitat for Humanity, Food and Toy drives, Labor Day Parades and Picnics, Labor club meetings and literature drops for politicians.
“I’d like to thank MOWIT for this award and IBEW Local 1 for supporting me so I can have a successful career,” Sachse said. “I’d also like to thank our Business Manager Frank Jacobs and the IBEW staff for nominating me and my husband for always supporting me.”
Danyeal Crittenden, a 13-year member of Laborers Local 42 who works at McCarthy Building Companies, also received a Tradeswoman of the Year Honorable Mention. She has participated in numerous union events including meetings, pickets and canvasses and was recognized as Laborer of the Year in 2011.
Crittenden’s motto is to find the silver lining in every situation and to bring love and compassion to all. She volunteers at numerous nursing homes, helps the homeless and often works soup kitchens. She also volunteers on Clean Sweeps, Better Family Life, block meetings and Stop the Violence Marches around St. Louis.
“Working in the construction trades has provided me and my kids with a great living,” Crittenden said. “All it takes is hard work, determination, resilience, meditation, a positive attitude, being fearless and being the best you can be.”
ALL-STAR ADVOCATE AWARD
In another surprise announcement, MOWIT presented Lynda Mueller Drendel, a Carpenters Local 97 member who recently retired as an instructor with the Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship Program, with the MOWIT All-Star Advocate Award for her ongoing commitment to helping women in the trades succeed.
“She has worked with and volunteered for MOWIT since Day 1,” Barton said. “She has found countless ways to make a variety of situations much easier and has been an advocate for women in the trades in so many ways.”
Mueller Drendel thanked MOWIT for the recognition, and said, “It’s amazing to look around the room and see so many tradeswomen I don’t know. Thank you all.”
UNION/APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM OF THE YEAR
The St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council’s Building Union Diversity (BUD) program was recognized as the Union/Apprenticeship Program of the Year.
The BUD program is a partnership between the Building & Construction Trades Council, the Eastern Missouri Laborers District Council and the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council, along with the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE), Missouri Division of Workforce Development, United Way, Missouri Department of Transportation, Metropolitan Sewer District, AGC of Missouri and the St. Louis County Human Services Workforce Development.
Launched in 2014 as a recruitment tool and pathway to get more women and people of color into the building trades, the program offers pre-apprentices the opportunity to visit local building trade unions to give them basic training and a feel for each of the trades. The percentage of women participating in the program increased by 31 percent in 2019.
CONTRACTOR/SUBCONTRACTOR OF THE YEAR
Avid Electric & Communications, an IBEW Local 1 signatory contractor that increased the number of tradeswomen in its workforce by 30 percent in the past year, was recognized as the Contractor/Subcontractor of the Year.
Avid is a low-voltage communications company offering commercial fire alarm systems, security systems, access control and data networks. The company’s owner, Katie Jimenez, founded Women in Technology, a non-profit organization dedicated to training women in the trades and providing resources for them to become self-sufficient.
MoWIT also called up two groups for recognition: tradeswomen who have entered into an apprenticeship in the past year and tradeswomen who have journeyed out in the last year. The evening also included a brief roll call of tradeswomen recognized by their years of service for five, 10, 15, 20, 25 and over 25 years.
In addition to the individual MOWIT awards, each honoree (except Walsh and Mueller Drendel) received a Missouri Senate resolution from Sen. Walsh. MOWIT was also honored with a resolution on behalf of its work helping women enter and succeed in the union building trades.
Founded in 2008, MOWIT is a non-profit agency that provides tradeswomen with support group meetings, job information and referrals. It also maintains a work list as a resource to the construction community. For more information, call (636) 926-6948 or visit mowit.org.
– All photos courtesy of Niles Zee Photography.