Missouri Women in Trades honored with Hershel Walker Peace & Justice Award



OUTSTANDING LEADERSHIP: Missouri Women in Trades board members Renee Renn (left) and Angela Donahue accept a 2019 Hershel Walker Peace & Justice Award during a recent ceremony at the St. Louis Workers’ Education Society in St. Louis. – Labor Tribune photo

Missouri Women in Trades (MoWIT), an organization dedicated to expanding opportunities for women to enter and succeed in the construction and building trades, has been honored with a 2019 Hershel Walker Peace & Justice Award.

The award ceremony, sponsored by the St. Louis Workers’ Education Society (WES), honors local Labor and community leaders for their work in creating a more just and equitable society. Walker was a St. Louis trade unionist and human and civil rights leader committed to the struggle for peace and justice.

About 35 people attended the May 25 event, which was held at WES headquarters, 2929 S. Jefferson Ave., in St. Louis. After the ceremony, guests were treated to a preview of the new St. Louis Mother Jones exhibit at WES headquarters.

MoWIT President Beth Barton was unable to attend the May 25 ceremony, but told the Labor Tribune in an interview that the organization was honored to receive the prestigious award.

Specifically, the award honors MoWIT for its outstanding service, commitment and leadership in the struggle for workers’ rights, workplace equality, job training and women’s’ rights.

Board members Renee Renn, a Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 apprentice, and Angela Donahue, a construction inspector with the Missouri Department of Transportation, accepted the honor on behalf of the group.

“We are so grateful to WES to receive this award,” Barton said in the interview. “It’s been a banner year for our organization, and we are continuing to grow in membership and to increase our efforts to help women to enter and succeed in union apprenticeship programs and the building and construction trades.”

Among MoWIT’s accomplishments in the past year, the group has:

  • Established a physical location with an office WES headquarters
  • Hosted several free construction “survival skills” workshops to prepare women considering a career in the building trades with the skills they need to hit the ground running.
  • Offered a mentoring program to graduates of the Building Union Diversity (BUD) program to ensure the graduates’ continued success
  • Provided scholarships to help send local tradeswomen to last year’s Women Build Nations conference in Seattle
  • Marched in the St. Louis Pride Parade
  • Co-sponsored a woodworking workshop for girls with the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council’s Joint Apprenticeship Program.

The organization also offers monthly meet-ups held the second Wednesday of the month from 4 to 7 p.m. at the MoWIT office where women can learn about upcoming events and opportunities and share their experiences as tradeswomen.

Additionally, MoWIT is planning its first major fundraiser, called the Blue Collar-Black Tie Tradeswomen Awards Gala, which will be held on Sept. 20 at Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 36 Grand Hall, 2319 Chouteau Ave. in St. Louis. The event will include dinner, an award ceremony and a dance party. Details will be announced soon.

WES President Tony Pecinovsky said he learned about MoWIT when the organization asked if it could make WES headquarters its home. He said MoWIT’s goals closely align with WES’ mission, which is to provide a warm, welcoming safe space where everybody is welcome.

“The work that MoWIT is doing is really amazing and there’s a lot of unique challenges for women entering the trades,” he said. “We are honored to have this group under our roof to provide leadership, mentorship and training to women.”

Also honored with 2019 Hershel Walker Peace & Justice awards at the May 25 ceremony were:

  • Michael Yates, former Operating Engineers Local 148 president, treasurer and business representative. Additionally, Yates has served on the executive board of the North County Labor Club for nearly 20 years and is currently the club’s treasurer.
  • Cory Bush, an activist and a community organizer who is running for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 election for the U.S. Congressional First District seat currently occupied by U.S. Representative William “Lacy” Clay.

For more information on MoWIT, visit mowit.org, call 636-926-6948 or email info@mowit.org. You can also text “JOIN MOWIT” to 66599 to get news, information and meeting reminders.



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