MEDIA RELEASE GILLIBRAND AMENDMENT TO INFRASTRUCTURE BILL FEATURES CONSTRUCTION-TRADES EQUITY Amendment Increases Opportunities in the Construction-Trades Workforce for Women & People of Color

U.S. — With the Senate opening debate on the bi-partisan infrastructure bill, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY and co-sponsors U.S. Sens. Cory Booker, D-NJ, Dick Durbin, D-IL, Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, Ed Markey, D-MA, Jeff Merkley, D-OR, Alex Padilla, D-CA, Bernie Sanders, D-VT and Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, have put forth an amendment aimed at increasing opportunities for women and people of color in the construction-trades workforce. Similar to those included in the recently passed House infrastructure bill, the measure would include:
 
  • Workforce participation goals for underrepresented groups;
  • A goal of 15 percent apprentice utilization; 
  • Requirements for respectful workplaces, including harassment-prevention training; and
  • Funding for supportive services like recruitment, pre-apprenticeship, and childcare
 
“Every crisis presents opportunities, and embedded in the crisis of our nation’s decaying infrastructure is the chance to open up work in the skilled construction trades to people who have historically faced multiple barriers to entrance,” Gillibrand said. “There is no doubt that women and people of color can do this work if given the chance. And we know the provisions in this amendment will help tear down some of those barriers, because we’ve seen them work at the state level.”
 
To achieve these objectives, the amended bill would require that a half percent of federal and state dollars allocated for the designated projects be spent on supportive services to remove barriers to entry and retention in the trades for women and people of color. Under existing law, .5 percent of federal highway aid funds are allowed to be spent on critical supportive services; however, few states have taken up this option.
 
“Backing from Sen. Gillibrand and her colleagues gives us a significant boost in our campaign to get this measure into the infrastructure package,” said Jayne Vellinga, Executive Director of Chicago Women in Trades. “We are also excited to have picked up crucial endorsements from the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union, and United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners.” 
 
CWIT and the National Taskforce on Tradeswomen’s Issues, in partnership with more than 200 tradeswomen, tradeswoman organizations, trade unions, construction firms, gender and racial justice organizations, workers-rights groups and industry leaders, are supporting the proposed amendment.
 
“Women, and especially women of color, have been overlooked when it comes to infrastructure jobs in construction and manufacturing.” said Leah Rambo, a 33 year member of the sheet metal worker’s union, Co-Chair of TWTF and Training Director of the SMART Local 28. “These high-wage jobs give women the ability to take care of ourselves and our families, and we have proven time and again that we have the grit needed to excel in these jobs.”
 
Chicago Women in Trades works to ensure that all women who want to work with their hands and earn a good living have equal access to information, training, and employment opportunities. Chicago Women In Trades provides free training programs that provide a clear pathway to high-wage careers in the union construction trades and welding/manufacturing industries. To find out more, visit: https://cwit.org.
 
The National Taskforce on Tradeswomen’s Issues works to promote public policies and advocacy initiatives at the national, state and local levels to improve, enforce, fund, and promote best practices towards equity for women in apprenticeship, training, workforce development, career and technical education, and construction and other skilled trades employment, as well as respectful worksites for all. For more information, visit: https://tradeswomentaskforce.org.