Second Metro East Laborers apprentice wins national tradeswoman award

TRADESWOMAN HERO: Ginger Ross, (second from right) a first-year apprentice with Laborers Local 397, receives her Tradeswoman Hero Award. Standing with Ross is (from left) Chad Hogue, Local 397 field representative; Vicky McElroy, apprenticeship coordinator at the Southwestern Illinois Laborers District Council; (Ross); and Bill Traylor, Local 397 business manager. – Laborers Local 397 photo


Edwardsville, IL – Ginger Ross, a first-year Laborers Local 397 apprentice, has been honored as a Tradeswoman Hero in a new North American Building Trades Union (NABTU) awards program.

Ross, 29, is the second Metro East Laborers apprentice and the third Metro East tradeswoman to receive the award. The program, which debuted last October, recognizes four tradeswomen each month that lead by example and perform their duties at an outstanding level.

“I’m so honored to receive the award,” said Ross, who joined the union in February 2020. “I’m proud to be a laborer and happy with the profession because I like to work outdoors, learn new skills and help build things.”

Ross, of Alhambra, Ill., first learned about Local 397 in 2013 when she was bartending at a local restaurant. Several of her patrons, who were Local 397 members, talked about their work and explained the benefits of being a union member, and it immediately peeked her interest.

That’s what brought Ross to Local 397, said Vicky McElroy, apprenticeship coordinator at the Southwestern Illinois Laborers District Council. She worked out of Local 397 for a few months in 2013, and then circumstances took her in a different path in life. Seven years later, she rejoined the union as an apprentice.

Ross is the second Metro East Laborers apprentice McElroy has nominated for the tradeswoman hero award since the program began last fall. Emily Gilreath, a third-year Laborers Local 338 apprentice, won earlier this year.

“Ginger is a very hard working Laborer, and she strives to be the best she can be,” McElroy said. “She does not let anything get her down or stand in her way. We don’t have a lot of female tradeswomen in the field, and for two of my ladies to win… I just get goosebumps talking about it.”

Local 397 Business Manager Bill Traylor said he was extremely proud of Ross.

“I’ve known her since she first worked out of the hall as a referral applicant in 2013,” Traylor said. “She’s a very good worker, and we’re happy to have her on our team.”

In addition to Ross and Gilreath, Mishelle Wallace, an Iron Workers Local 392 journeywoman, was also recognized with a tradeswoman hero award, bringing the total number of Metro East winners to three.

NABTU’s Tradeswomen Heroes Awards program recognizes four tradeswomen each month, honoring two apprentices and two journey-level workers in the United States and Canada. To learn more about program or to make a nomination, visit

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