The women’s caucus of the BC Building Trades has become the first chapter in Canada to welcome transgender people to its membership.
Known as Build TogetHER, the caucus has opened its doors to all members in good standing of a BC Building Trades-affiliated union who have experience as a woman in the trades, or who identify as a woman in the trades.
“People who are transgender and gender diverse in our workforce may face the things tradeswomen could, such as discrimination, harassment and exclusion,” said Julia Ballantyne, a refrigeration mechanic and co-chair of Build TogetHER. “We want to offer them support, mentorship, solidarity and friendship, so that they can pursue their chosen career and craft.”
Build Together, Women of the Building Trades, is a national program of Canada's Building Trades Unions (CBTU) that promotes, supports and mentors women in the skilled construction trades. The program has grown to include multiple provincial chapters with B.C. being the first to adopt language welcoming transgender and gender diverse women into their ranks.
“Inclusive workplaces create diverse workplaces,” said Lindsay Amundsen, director of workforce development with the CBTU. “Updating language in our Build TogetHER chapters, in our local unions, in our collective agreements that is inclusive is a first step to building a culture of respect where everyone can feel safe and welcomed in their workplace and in the construction industry as a whole.”
Build TogetHER BC announced the new rules of membership on Dec. 10, which has been declared International Human Rights Day by the United Nations.