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Labor Perspective From Pipefitters Local 537’s Julie Hemingway: There's A ‘Bright Spot For Women In This Coronavirus Pandemic - The Unionized Building Trades’

Published Wednesday, April 28, 2021
by Julie Hemingway Via
Labor Perspective From Pipefitters Local 537’s Julie Hemingway: There's A ‘Bright Spot For Women In This Coronavirus Pandemic - The Unionized Building Trades’

The Fall River Herald News Editor’s Note: Julie Hemingway is a resident of Carver, Massachusetts and a Member of Pipefitters Local 537.  Headquartered in Dorchester, Massachusetts, Local 537 represents more than 3,000 Pipefitters, Welders and HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) Refrigeration Technicians across New England.


A year into the Coronavirus Pandemic and one thing is clear: Women have disproportionately borne the brunt of caring for family members, juggling remote school and child care, under-employment and job losses. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 2.5 million women have left the U.S. workforce.

Even with these challenges, there are reasons to be optimistic: Women are increasingly joining the Unionized Building Trades for great, family-sustaining careers.

In spite of the negative national outlook for women's employment, the percentage of women in Massachusetts Union Apprenticeships is higher than ever, despite all the hardships we faced in 2020.

In Boston, Building Trades Unions have twice the national average of Female Apprentices.

COVID-19 isn't stopping Tradeswomen from breaking barriers.

For many women, you can make the decision to further your education and receive adequate benefits and equal pay.

I know because I did it.

I was working dead-end jobs with no benefits after I got out of the Army – tele-marketing and door-to-door sales.

But 16 years ago, I made the life-changing move to join Pipefitters Local 537.

After five years of the Apprenticeship Program, working full time and attending school, I became a Union Pipefitter with UA Local 537 Boston.

Joining a Union opened up my future and I've never looked back.

A career in the Unionized Building Trades provides world-class job training, a life-long career, job stability and excellent benefits.

I joined as a third-generation Pipefitter, following my grandfather and my father into the Trades.

I've had the chance to help build universities, power plants and cutting-edge medical labs with a great team.

That's in large part because Locals like mine have committed to creating space and opportunities for women.

Pipefitters Local 537 has been nothing but supportive of me.

They are 100% behind anyone who shows up wanting to do the job

In fact, Local 537 is a regional leader in promoting diversity and equality in the Building Trades.

In 2019, we welcomed an Apprentice Class with 60% more women than the year before.

Many efforts drove this tremendous growth, including the Local's outreach at job fairs and partnerships with programs like Building Pathways, which offers career opportunities in the Construction Trades to women and People of Color.

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