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I am three months away from completing a 10,000 hour apprenticeship program for a tool and die maker at a small engine manufacturer. This is a union shop. I scored the highest on the competency and was awarded the job. At first it seemed as though all the "guys", boss included, we're supportive in my learning this challenging trade.Then reality started to sink in. I do not get as high of evaluations as the rest of the apprentices and I have to walk a very narrow line to avoid "reprimands", these are verbal of course so there is no documentation. For the last 14 months I have been permanently transferred to second shift. It took 2-1/2 months to get the pay raise that the other male apprentices got immediately. They used to transfer apprentices on to 2nd shift when they were far enough along and give them a hefty raise -- $3 or $4 an hour more. By the time they booted me onto second I got $0.75 Also it is the bosses policy to allow workers in the dept to transfer to another shift fot fishing, hunting, making wood, or any other reason. I was denied a 2 week transfer to buy a house as a joint tenant with my roomate who works days at her job. I even ran into discrimination in searching for furure employment. I can't find anyone to take me seriously-I was offered $7-8 to start at a job that was offered to a male for $15. Am I being "too sensitive" or do I have a reason to gripe? My Dad (who I love dearly) always said to me as a child when I cried that it wasn't "fair", "Well, it's no circus either".
Sincerely, Betsy
Tool and Die Maker to be

You are all too correct in your observations. Not only are you correct in raising concern--but by pointing out these inconsistencies, you will pave the way for others who are likely to come along in your position. I'm not sure how far you want to take this, but there are a few organizations that I want to suggest you contact to help you with this. There is:

1.) The AFL-CIO--Committee on Salaried and Professional Women. They "explore the problems facing women in professional and technical occupations and encourages organizing and union participants among women workers." (* Together with the Institute on Women's Policy Research, they just released a study "Equal Pay for Working Families: National and State Data on the Pay Gap and Its Costs.")

2.) 9to5, National Association for Working Women and the National Committee on Pay Equity.

Although Construction is a different field, I was just reading an article about how they need more contractors than ever before and are reaching out to women to fill this gap. The National Center for Construction Education and Research and the National Association of Women in Construction are both working to improve women's representation in this field. Perhaps this will expland to the Tool and Die Industry soon.

I hope this helps and I hope you know that you are right. Good luck and let me know if you think I can help in any other way.



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