MoWIT offering mentoring program to BUD graduates

A CAREER IN THE TRADES: The 12th class of Building Union Diversity (BUD) program participants listen to an overview of the Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 training program presented by Tracy Hykes, a Local 36 instructor for the union’s training school. Missouri Women in Trades will be offering a mentoring program for the participants once they have completed the BUD program. – Labor Tribune photo


Missouri Women in Trades (MoWIT) soon will begin offering a mentoring program to graduates of the Building Union Diversity (BUD) program to ensure the graduates’ continued success.

The BUD program was launched in 2014 to bring more minority and female workers into the St. Louis construction industry. It prepares participants to enter apprenticeships so they can begin fulfilling and rewarding careers by introducing them to a variety of union trades.

MoWIT President Beth Barton said her organization developed a formal mentoring program through a Coro Fellows Program when the group first formed, but it was never executed.

Although MoWIT is a non-profit organization that provides tradeswomen with support group meetings, job information and referrals, its mentors will also be mentoring men in the BUD program, Barton said.


“It was on our list to launch this year and then I got a call from Roz Sherman Voellinger asking us if we would be interested in mentoring members of the BUD program,” she said. “It was perfect timing.”

Sherman Voellinger is the United Way of Greater St. Louis’ vice president of Labor Engagement and Labor Liaison. The United Way provides participants in the BUD program with support to help with transportation barriers or other problems that may be preventing them from getting or keeping a job.

“The idea for a mentoring program came about while we were talking about how to increase the success of the BUD graduates,” she said. “All 12 participants in the current program have said they would like a mentor.”


The BUD program is a unique partnership of the St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council, the Eastern Missouri Laborers District Council and St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council, with funding support from the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE) and the Missouri Division of Workforce Development.

BUD Program Director Russ Signorino said since the program began, between 110 and 120 students have graduated and 84 percent have been placed in construction jobs.

The 12th BUD class, which consists of 11 men and one woman, will graduate in early April. During the five-week program, the pre-apprentices will be visiting seven union training centers to give them basic training and a feel for each of the trades.


On April 19, MoWIT will host a mentoring orientation seminar where mentors and mentees will be matched up. The event will be from 4 to 7 p.m. at 2929 S. Jefferson Ave. in St. Louis.

The St. Louis Chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) will also be providing mentors, she said. During the orientation seminar, mentees will sign a five-month contract agreeing to meet or talk to their mentor at least twice a month.

“Basically, we’re are trying to help them adapt to life in the construction industry by providing the soft skills they may need on the job,” Barton said. “We’re really looking forward to helping these sisters and brothers navigate their way toward rewarding careers in the trades.”

To RSVP for the seminar, call MoWIT at 636-926-6948 or send an email to


Anyone interested in participating in a future BUD class should contact SLATE at 314-657-3545.

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