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Wellesley College 'Takes Heat' From The IBEW Over Female Construction Jobs

Published Wednesday, September 18, 2019
by Deirdre Fernandes/The Boston Globe
Wellesley College 'Takes Heat' From The IBEW Over Female Construction Jobs

(WELLESLEY, MASSACHUSETTS) - Wellesley College, the Nation’s preeminent women’s campus is in unfamiliar territory: Defending itself against charges of sexism in an in-your-face advertising campaign launched by the Local Electrical Workers Union.

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 103 has taken out newspaper and on-line ads - and over the Summer hired a plane to fly over the campus during a Wellesley Alumni event - criticizing the college’s commitment to hiring Women Electricians for its new $206 million Science Center Construction Project.

The Union said that the college has “undermined Women Construction Workers” by using a Non-Union subcontractor to do the work on its new facility.

In Massachusetts, more than 90% of the Female Electricians who hold licenses and are in Apprenticeship Programs belong to the Union, said Lou Antonellis, the Business Manager for the Local 103.

By choosing a Non-Union electrical shop, Wellesley is shutting many women from this project, he said.

The campaign called #WhatAboutMeWellesley features videos and images of Female Construction Workers questioning the college, juxtaposed with speeches from Wellesley’s President and its most famous alum, Hillary Clinton.

“Wellesley 'should be held to a higher standard, especially when it comes to Women Construction Workers,'” Antonellis said. “It’s 'their' project, it’s 'their' campus, 'they have all the control.'”

Wellesley officials said they remain firmly supportive of women in the construction industry and set out goals for hiring women and minorities to build the science center.

Wellesley aimed to have women and minorities make up 10% of its construction workforce, said Tara Murphy, a spokeswoman for the college.

So far, about 6% of Workers on the Science Center project are women and 27% are minorities.

The share of Women Electricians is even higher, Murphy said.

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