Women in Construction Week

Women In Construction Week 2019

As we celebrate Women in Construction week March 4th through 8th, we’d like to take this opportunity to showcase how the Rochester Building and Construction Trades Unions and the unionized employer/contractors have been working to increase women participation within the trades. The building trades unions have been leading the way in welcoming women into the workforce, ensuring equal pay, and providing a safe forum for reporting any workplace harassment or unfair practices. We value workforce diversity and are proud to stand by our practices. We believe that the best chance for growth of women contractors in our industry is through diversifying the workforce, providing women the training and firm background needed to advance and excel. Unions are the gold standard in offering that type of training system. Their apprenticeship model is a proven way to train and advance ALL members throughout their career while providing excellent benefits and a decent, living wage.

Equal Pay

Building Trades Unions solved the problem of equal pay decades ago. The wages established within a union’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with the employers is for ALL workers. These agreements outline the wages for a worker by classification or work performed, period; all workers within that classification will receive that rate of pay. We have always given women the same pay as men. Wage scales are not discriminatory, with wages being set for apprentices, journey level workers, supervisors, and so forth.

The building trades unions pride themselves on the unparalleled skill level of their members, placing an emphasis on training all workers through apprenticeship and/or many other pre-eminent programs. It is through these non-discriminatory training programs that men and women alike learn while working alongside skilled crafts-workers and advance in a predetermined and transparent system.

Workforce Diversity / Equal Opportunity

The Rochester Building and Construction Trades Unions and their signatory employers are, and have been, exemplary in welcoming both women and other underrepresented communities into their apprenticeship programs. Our unions and contractors have a deep desire to develop a fully diversified workforce. They strive for one that is made up of individuals with a wide range of characteristics including age, ethnicity, gender, race, religion and sexual orientation.

We continue to find new ways and develop new efforts to increase enrollment for a comprehensive minority workforce through the use of direct entry methods, aggressive EEOC standards and customized training and recruitment programs. The local Building Trades Multi-Craft Apprenticeship Preparation Program (MAPP) and Project Phoenix are two examples of current pre-apprenticeship programs focused on inner-city residents. These efforts utilize a series of introductory courses in basic construction, math, and safety to give the participants a paid, on-the-job training experience, providing them with the knowledge, skills and pathway needed to enter the union apprenticeship program of their choice. Programs and initiatives such as these are jointly funded and administered by both the unions and the employers and are changing the stigma that the construction industry is a ‘white man’s’ field.

Construction is a physically demanding industry, it lacks the flexibility, flair and glamour that a younger generation may find so appealing. For this reason, and others, the recruitment of a diverse workforce has proven to be difficult. But all Building Trades unions offer various forms of public outreach and recruitment periods for their apprenticeship programs. Applications are open to all people and at a minimum, these dates, times and eligibility requirements are advertised by the unions and are published on the NYS Department of Labor website.


The Rochester Building and Construction Trades Unions efforts to recruit women into their programs is extensive and perpetual. They have also developed significant policies and procedures to safeguard against any harassment or unfair work practices. It is not only written into their collective bargaining agreements and management policies, it is hardwired into their culture, it is in their DNA. Our trade unions and our contracting partners have adopted the latest and most comprehensive sexual harassment policies and have developed protections for whistleblowers which protect the member’s rights to speak up when they are the victim of, or witness to, any kind of harassment or unfair practices within the workplace.

These safeguards have been in place long before the recent NY legislation which offered welcomed sexual harassment protections in the workplace. Our skilled trade unions represent ALL of our members equally and will always take whatever deliberate steps are necessary to ensure that all members are heard and treated fairly. Equally important, whenever a member does experience a difficulty of any type, they have a union to stand along side them, and represent them in their demands for fair and equal treatment. When you are a member of a trade union you never have to stand alone in your fight for equality. We will always stand with you!

Celebrating Women in Construction

Construction is a very difficult and demanding industry, it is not for everyone and it is not for the faint of heart. That said, our regional contractors and the Rochester Building & Construction Trades Unions include a diverse demographic and make every effort to promote and encourage participation from women and minorities. Our system of equal representation, multi-employer apprenticeships, transparent and published wage scales, and the highest level of worker protections is a model that we believe is second to none.

We encourage independent contractors and other industries suited to apprenticeship and/or collective bargaining to adopt these programs, as we have found them to be successful in creating a safe and open work environment, with a clear path to advancement in their careers. Unionized construction workers have long considered their union to be a brotherhood among members. During this week, and throughout the year, we acknowledge, welcome and celebrate the women in construction, our sisters in one of the largest and oldest industries in our nation.

For more information on Rochester’s building and construction trades unions and apprenticeships, visit our website: www.uniconrochester.com