Connie, a 32-year member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49, is a true trail blazer. She started working for an excavating company as a temporary bookkeeper, but had her eyes set on working in the field. She met others in the industry that told her that if she joined a union she could make twice as much, have a pension and heath care than working a non-union job. “I found out about the Local 49er’s apprenticeship program, applied, and it all went from there. It was the best decision I ever made,” Connie says.
When asked about what she likes about her job, she says the pay and benefits, but also “how you get to go to different sites and work different projects. I like seeing different parts of the Twin Cities.” One of her favorite projects was working on the University of Minnesota’s Health Sciences Education Center. “I got to work with over 50 women from 16 trades, it was the thrill of my life. Usually, you are the only woman on the job site. I keep in touch with them all, keep them informed of different events.”
Connie knows about almost every networking or organizing meeting for women. She is a member of the National Association of Women in the Trades; Tradeswomen’s Taskforce; Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council; the Attorney General’s Task Force on Expanding the Economic Security of Women; is a frequent delegate to Tradeswomen Build Nations and she co- founded the IUOE Local 49’s Women’s Committee. “We founded the Women’s Committee to have monthly meetings to encourage women to get more involved in the union. We also want to retain women in the industry, and make sure they have successful careers and are happy doing it,” Connie said.
“My whole goal with the Local 49er’s Women’s Committee and all the things I work on to support women is that one day we won’t need them anymore. I want to get to a place where when I retire the apprentices can run the Committee and let them take it away.”