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Women refused union construction jobs? Absolutely [Letter]

Thank you for the commentary regarding the challenge facing women in construction ("Construction: a boy's club," July 14). I know about it from experience.

From 2007 to mid-2008, I received scholarships and worker retraining at a technical school for building construction. Out of 100 students, I was one of four who achieved an associate of applied science degree during that time. I then received direct entry into the apprentice 3.5-year program to become a union carpenter. I was lucky to receive six months of work each year.

After 5.5 years of apprentice training, mostly in building federally-funded freeway bridges and at only 75 percent of on-the-job training and not within all the required skill-set categories, I was journeyed out. Now, I receive no real union job calls. Only for a day here or there 200-to-400 miles away. I receive no calls to work locally.

I filed a grievance to be allowed to complete 25 percent more training. I was denied it by the union as well as the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. Discrimination? I have high grades, was a member of Phi Theta Kappa, am an excellent worker, but I have received harassment and bullying the entire way. Even the head of the union apprentice training said my technical college education did not matter. He then screamed at me that he heard from the guys that I was incompetent and should not be in construction.

I now own my own business as a licensed and bonded contractor. I keep finding clients who seem very happy with my skills and give me great referrals. One day at a time. Bitter? Yes. I am bitter that the union jobs with great pay and benefits go to the chosen few. These men do not want women co-workers. They and the corporations do not train the women equally as the young men. Many of them are recruited via the helmets to hard hats program. The union seems to reward those who are trained to kill. Many like to spend their money on guns, motor bikes and huge trucks.

Rebecca Meloy

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