SISTERS COME TOGETHER TO BREAK DOWN INDUSTRY BARRIERS
Efforts to grow our union and change the face of our industry require more than recruitment. Long-lasting change requires a supportive culture that makes our apprentices want to stick around for the duration of their careers.
Our Washington State Sisters in the Brotherhood chapters have been meeting virtually for panel discussions. We spoke with a few of these Sisters on the importance of mentoring in an industry full of opportunity.
Kristi Cole, LU 129, Union Representative
How did this panel come together?
The panel came up while brainstorming a plan to have valuable content for our Sisters and ways to support those just starting out as apprentices, newer journey-level workers, or those with an interest in advancing their career. Our chairs from the different Washington areas agreed that having a series around conflict resolution and leadership mentoring would be valuable.
Who was on the leadership panel?
The panel consisted of current Sisters in the Brotherhood (SIB) job site leaders: superintendents and foremen from various scopes with good geographic representation. The feedback from our Sisters was really fantastic, this leadership mentoring event worked well, and it was so successful because of the collaboration with our rank-and-file SIB chairs.
Jodine Hatfield, LU 196, Superintendent Clark Construction
In the Seattle metro?
Interested in walking a project to get a feel for what it is like to be a superintendent?
Connect with Jodine Hatfield, LU 196, Superintendent, Clark Construction.
How long have you been a carpenter?
I joined the union as a pile driver in 2002. I was attending Divers Institute of Technology in Seattle in 2001, and my instructor told me I would do well as a pile driver. My father was a commercial diver. He dove for the military, diffusing bombs, and later the Palm Beach Marine Patrol and U.S. Customs. I have always loved the water. My mom would throw her keys at the bottom of the deep end of the pool, and at three years old, I would get them. My father taught me how to dive when I was ten. He was a Sergeant Major – an authoritarian figure. Some of my bulldozer personality comes from him.
What are some key takeaways from the WA SIB discussion?
This is important work to help women succeed past apprenticeship. All Sisters need to be active. We cannot just be at the table; we have to have a voice at the table.
The panelists were talking about different styles of leadership. I have a strong sense of right and wrong – everything has to be fair. If not, it does not work for me; everyone has a place at the table. That is how I position my leadership. I invite people to join me. This is how I help create opportunities for the people around me. This is a feminine style of leadership. In our industry, we are used to an authoritarian and often oppressive approach.
I heard the other panelists talking about their experience, examples of hazing that we all have gone through. Hearing people connect and realize that they are not alone, we are being picked on no different from the Sister next to us. We are all walking the same line and learning how to best navigate it as a group. I spent my time seeing and hearing and listening to this connection. We need that on our job sites.
Three years ago, I started from the gold shovel to where we are now on the Seattle Convention Center Addition Project. It is a complicated, massive steel structure with 1.4 million square feet of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing on 8.5 acres. The total contract is valued at $1.6 billion, with $950 million in construction costs. My company is overseeing over $1 billion of that work. Now I manage drywall, CMU, field crew, biohazard removal, temporary power, water, and sewage – work in the $100 millions. I work hard at creating allies across trades with different levels of leadership. I have people coming to me from many trades to help with their projects.
As a leader, how do you get people to follow you? Have knowledge; otherwise, people lose faith. I set out to learn a lot of sh*t. I do not have to be great at anything right off; I just have to try it as something new. When I get an opportunity, I do it. I encourage that even when we find ourselves afraid of an opportunity, we should do it anyway. I enjoy being scared a little bit – that is a part of the fun.
Something my boss said to me the other day, “If you aren’t f*cking sh*t up, you aren’t learning.” It is okay to make mistakes. Stop apologizing for everything. There are other ways of saying it. “Oh, that didn’t go well.” Be compassionate to yourself. Come at it with a different lens, showing yourself and others around you that any professional career involves learning from mistakes. That is an important part of leadership. You have to be very conscious and come from the heart.
INTERESTED IN GETTING INVOLVED?
CLICK HERE FOR INFO ON HOW TO REACH OUT TO YOUR AREA SISTERS IN THE BROTHERHOOD CHAPTER.
THANK YOU TO OUR AUGUST 27, 2020
Vincelle Calica, LU 2761
Shipping Lead, Simpson Door Company, President and Chief Steward
Christy Graham, LU 129
Superintendent, Korsmo Construction
Jodine Hatfield, LU 196
Superintendent & Commercial Diver, Clark Construction
Melanie Smith, LU 129
Foreman, S. Madison Services
Aspen Swartz, LU 30
Superintendent, Turner Construction