Sisters in the Building Trades Make Their Mark on the Women’s March

Joyous, defiant, passionate. However you want to describe them, they were on a mission.

January 21st, a mere 24 hours after Donald Trump was sworn in as America’s 45th President, millions of women descended upon Washington D.C. and 673 other cities across the country– and around the globe.

Countless organizations were in attendance to champion many different causes and to give voice to the issues that are most important to them. It was the Women’s March, the first of its kind.

A Grassroots Movement Takes Place

Homemade signs went up, a sea of pink began to emerge, and an upbeat, inspired atmosphere took shape as women (and men) arrived in droves to remind the new administration – and the country – that America’s women aren’t wallflowers.

Some were there to march, some were there to protest, but all were there to display a sign of solidarity that, by all accounts, was nothing less than inspirational.

As the numbers swelled (Estimates put the total number of marchers at more than 2.5 million worldwide.), the goal of the Women’s March was clear: We’ve come a long way, but we’ve still got a ways to go.

Women’s increased participation in the paid labor force has been a key factor in driving economic growth in the U.S., but hasn’t been fully recognized with equal pay. According to the Council of Economic Advisers, the U.S. economy is $2 trillion larger today because of women’s contribution to the workforce since 1970. Still, major disparities in pay and representation remain:

  • Based on median annual salary, a woman working-full time earns an average of $10,800 less per year than a man. Over the course of a career, this equates to nearly half a million dollars.
  • According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, considering the current rate of change, the gender pay gap won’t close until 2059.
  • Women account for just 19 percent of Congress.

According to a 2016 report released by the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress titled “Gender Pay Equality: Consequences for Women, Families and the Economy,” enacting policies that would narrow the gender pay gap would not only decrease income inequality, but would literally lift many women and the families that rely on them, out of poverty.

SITBT: Joining Forces in the Woman’s March for a Purpose

Prominently making their mark on the Women’s March was the Sisters in the Building Trades (SITBT), proud members of a unique network of women who make up a growing and important part the construction workforce.

With the goal of increasing the number of opportunities for women in the trades, SITBT members and union representatives made the trek to Washington D.C. and countless other cities to ensure their voices were heard.

Holding signs with slogans like “Tradeswomen Against Tyranny,” “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun-Damental Rights,” and “Labor for Equal Rights,” SITBT members representing women carpenters, electricians, ironworkers, plumbers, painters, masons, and much, much more have an important message the world needs to hear: Although there is a growing number of women in the construction trades, it remains a male-dominated field where harassment and discrimination are all too prevalent.

SITBT was there in Chicago, where they rallied at Grant Park; in New York City, where the numbers swelled to 400,000; and in Boston, where as many as 100,000 people flocked to Boston Common. In D.C., more than 400,000 people turned out, twice as many as were expected.

The turnout and the solidarity marked the Women’s March as an historic demonstration, right up there with the civil rights demonstrations of the early ‘60s and the Vietnam protests in the latter part of that decade.

SITBT’s participation in the Women’s March reflects a commitment to ensuring that women remain a positive and growing part of the construction trades, that women are valued in the workforce, and that true equality can only be achieved when there is equal pay.

SITBT’s History of Championing the Cause of Women’s Rights and Workplace Equality

The Woman’s March is sure to make history, and SITBT’s participation may even get a mention, but this isn’t the organization’s first time organizing and advocating for women’s rights.

The Washington state-based nonprofit was established in 2004 to represent female laborers in the skilled trades. Since then, SITBT and its network of volunteers and members have participated in recruitment, apprenticeship, and community outreach programs, all of which are aimed at recognizing the value of women in the construction workforce.

SITBT works to inspire and train tradeswomen to organize effectively and engage in public appeals and campaigns that promote living-wage jobs and a diverse workforce.

Their Sisters Alliance Project brings dozens of national and local organizations from around the country together to further the organization’s advocacy efforts, promote leadership skills, and foster solidarity and support.

It was only natural for SITBT to make their presence known at the Woman’s March. Even as the events of the day eventually fade from the news cycle, the impact will be felt for a long time to come.

The work won’t stop until the job is done, and you can be sure SITBT will be there to see it through.