On October 11, 2022, community and union members came together to uplift small, women-owned, and minority contractors (SWaM) across the Washington, DC region.
The event included electrical, plumbing, steam-fitting, and mechanical contracting unions. Members of IBEW Local 26, UA Local 5 and 602, NECA, MCA, city councils, school boards, and non-profits were all in attendance.
The goal of the event was to shed light on how local unions have influenced SWaM contractors’ career trajectories and the communities they call home.
This sense of support from unions is instrumental in setting individuals up for the rest of their lives. By offering continuing education, trade unions help members break free from college debt, while getting healthcare, and even buying homes. Apprentices come in, earn an education, and walk away with a career path to a more secure way of life.
“The union gave me an opportunity after my mom died when I had none,” said IBEW Local 26 member Claudia Achury.
“I have worked hard to be successful for myself, my kids, and my union. I have just applied to be a Project Manager and am studying to be an electrical engineer. Since I have become an electrician with IBEW, I bought a home and just bought another in South Carolina. Like any woman, I want to be successful.”
Of course, it isn’t only the contractors themselves who benefit from the support of unions. There’s a ripple effect throughout the community when workers are supported—especially SWaM workers.
“I take my job as an elected official and steward of taxpayer dollars very seriously,” said Michele Reiff of the Alexandria School Board.
“If we can make sure that these building modernizations are completed on time and on budget, using the best-trained folks, pay the best wages, keep the highest safety standards, provide job opportunities for city residents, and on-the-job training, that is a win-win.”
Interested in a rewarding career as an electrician?
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