Lean In Circles for union tradeswomen launches St. Louis pilot program

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By SHERI GASSAWAY
Correspondent

Lean In Circles for Union Tradeswomen, a new program designed to support and empower women in the union building trades, has officially launched in the St. Louis area.

LEAN IN: About 100 local tradeswomen attended a recent kickoff event at the Teamsters Local 682 union hall where they learned about a new program designed to support and empower women in the union building trades called Lean In Circles for Union Tradeswomen. Here, tradeswomen take part in an exercise (similar to what they would experience in a Lean In circle) in which they were presented with an on-the-job predicament and asked to discuss strategies and potential solutions to address the situation with the women sitting next to them. – Labor Tribune photos

St. Louis is one of a handful of cities in the nation that was chosen for the six-month pilot program, sponsored by North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) and Build Together in partnership with LeanIn.Org.

About 100 local tradeswomen attended a Nov. 6 kickoff event at the Teamsters Local 682 union hall where they learned about the effort from AFL-CIO and NABTU leaders, Lean In officials and women in the program from other states.

IMPORTANT, GROWING SEGMENT OF THE INDUSTRY
John Stiffler, St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council executive secretary-treasurer, welcomed the tradeswomen to the event, noting that women are an important and growing segment of the industry.

“The face of Organized Labor is changing,” he said. “It’s no longer an exclusive club for men who look like me, and I’m thankful. Today, women and minorities are taking up the torch and leading the way into demanding good jobs and benefits for all working people, and you are a big part of that change.”

HOW THE PROGRAM WORKS
Participants join a circle with eight to 12 other tradeswomen and meet once a month to in a safe space to connect with other tradeswomen, discuss issues they are facing on the job and learn from each other.

Fifteen local tradeswomen have been designated moderators for the circles and will be provided with content for tradeswomen that has been prepared by tradeswomen. The circles will also connect via private Facebook groups to provide a wider network.

HOW IT BEGAN
AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Liz Shuler, who is very passionate about recruiting and empowering women not only in the trades, but the Labor Movement, read the book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg.

Shuler, who attended the kick-off event, said was intrigued by the practical advice offered and reached out to the book’s author and Lean In to create a program specifically for tradeswomen. “You are part of a very powerful experiment that is underway, and I’m happy to announce that we not only have support from NABTU, but your state and local unions as well, giving us the ability to test out some new ideas.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
If you are interested in joining a local Lean In circle, visit leanin.org/tradeswomen.


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