During the week of the Tradeswomen Build Nations conference, tradeswomen have appeared on AWF Union Podcast to tell their story and make their pitch to other women thinking about joining the trades.
United Association Plumbers Local 55 President Doreen Cannon told her story about changing careers, working up the union ladder and the importance of the Tradeswomen Build Nations Conference on the show.
From retail manager to Plumbers Local 55 President
Cannon began her career as a retail manager working long hours, weekends and was not feeling fulfilled. When she had a child, Cannon decided she would switch careers. After reading about a tradeswomen job fair in the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 1996, Cannon attended. She was later accepted into the plumbers apprenticeship program.
She said being the only woman on most jobs for about seven years was tough, but some tradesmen took her under their wing and would stand up for her and help her out.
In 2012, Cannon became an instructor at the training center, a position she still holds today in addition to being President of UA Local 55.
Eventually, Cannon was instrumental in the founding of the Cleveland Tradeswomen Committee. The committee meets for various recruitment events, provides mentorship and connects prospective apprentices with experienced tradeswomen.
Tradeswomen Build Nations conference
Cannon said the conference is one of the best events of the year. Getting thousands of tradeswomen together to share experiences makes them feel like they belong in the male-dominated industry.
As millions of people are currently out of work, Cannon said it is a great time for women to take up a career in the building trades. The wages are fair and the benefits are unmatched. She added that women can support a family on their earnings from a career in any of the trades.