Ann Flener-Gittlen of the United Steel Workers discussed her career as a USW member and what the Women of Steel program advocates for when she spoke with America’s Work Force Radio Podcast on Aug. 28.
Flener-Gittlen is the Director of Women of Steel. It is a USW initiative meant to elevate and educate the women who make up 20 percent of the USW membership.
When she began her career Flener-Gittlen became a spot welder at a plastics shop because the position paid more than the one she held at the time. She described a process where women and men were paid different wages and bid for jobs separately.
Eventually, Flener-Gittlen became the first female president of her local union, representing 1,200 members.
Women of Steel
As the Director of Women of Steel, she explained the program as evolving out of the women’s caucuses that demanded a rightful place for women as members of the USW.
The program now focuses on community outreach and building a coalition of women within the USW. She said the program also advocates for ensuring all tradesmen and tradeswomen are treated fairly and equally on jobsites.
She said the program reaches out to women and educates them on the benefits of unionism and how membership can lead to an improved life. The program also encourages women to get involved with union leadership and run for local political offices.
The union vote
She then moved on and began talking about the importance of voting. She said if people want change, they need to vote. Flener-Gittlen said the union vote is especially important, as labor law hinges on what politicians decide.