On February 23rd, staff and students from Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc., Portland Youth Builders, and Constructing Hope bused down to the State Capitol in Salem, OR for Construction Equity Day! This group of 80 people spent their day educating State Legislators about the importance of pre-apprenticeship programs and advocating for their continued funding. Measure 98, which promotes Career and Technical Education (CTE) and SB 292/HB 2167, which focuses on reducing bullying and harassment in the workplace, were also a major focus of advocacy efforts. Students had more than 20 scheduled meetings with legislators and navigated them with confidence; sharing their personal stories about how the trades industry has changed their lives. Some highlights for students included listening to a speech from Tim Frew, the Executive Secretary of the Oregon Building and Construction Trades Council, and meeting with Tina Kotek, Speaker of the House as well as Democratic Representative, Tawna Sanchez.
We at OTI are so proud of our Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class (TACC) students. They, along with the other students in attendance, led with power and demonstrated how to use their “construction voices” to advocate for the necessity of creating a more diverse workforce. The success of the day is truly owed to them! Special thanks to Alice Bartlett from the League of Women Voters for speaking with students about the importance of lobbying and legislation and to the Multnomah County Bar Foundation for providing the funding to make this event possible.
We would also like to thank our four legislative meeting leaders who just graduated from the most recent Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class. These students spent time preparing for this day and led their peers in developing their stories and meeting with Legislators – Nora Aguilar, Freedom Moreno, Nora Sackett, and Sumer Smith.