Tradeswomen Archives

Laborers Union 252

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Laborers Union 252

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Laborers Union 252.

I joined the Shipscalers Union July 26th 1974. I went to work for Todd Shipyard on Harbor Island as a Laborer. The Shipscaler Union was taken over by the Laborers Union, local 252, sometime in the late 70's early 80's. I had never even heard of the shipyard work before but had met some people that worked there. The first day I worked they put me shoveling wet sand under a spool by myself. I thought do I really want to do this but came back the next day and must have passed the test. I learned that work is different every day; there are good jobs and bad jobs and they all eventually go away and another task shows up. I have done everything from hauling steel and garbage all day, fire watching, cleaning the ships to sell back to the customer to water blasting and cleaning bilges and everything in between. I have been a supervisor for many of my years of work. I have worked on all kinds of ships, Naval, fishing and commercial. I have worked repair jobs on the aircraft carriers at PSNS for the last 14 years where our company has a contract with the Navy. When people ask me what a laborer does I often reply "anything asked of you that is legal and moral". Todd Shipyard was bought out two years ago by Vigor Industries. At that time I had just applied for and was awarded the position of Project Coordinator. I now assist in bringing in the trades women and men for the work we have. I have been very thankful for my job all of these years and all of the wonderful people I have met. I have had the good fortune of working for the same company for 38 years I hope to spend a few more years here.

I worked from the time I was 16 at food drive in's till I was 20. I worked at Harborview Hospital in Seattle for 2.5 years as a janitor maid. I got the job thru unemployment.

I found out about the shipyards as my ex father-in-law worked for Lockheed Shipyard that was next to Todd Shipyard. I signed up with the union and called the 3 times a day for a dispatch. I worked 9 months my first time out and got seniority. I have remained employed with them ever since other than the layoffs that are a part of the industry as the ships come in and go out. There was a period of 10 months when they totally subcontracted us out in 1984. The union fought it and we got our jobs back. Much of the work in the shipyard is subcontracted out now due to working on government jobs which by contract the have to do this, but they are not supposed to totally replace us.

In my union the racial demographics were mostly black in the shipscaler union and more men than women. Over the years and since we were absorbed by the Laborers union this has equalized out to a mix of many races and about a 1/3 women to 2/3 men ratio. Just so you know I am a white female and I am now 62.

In the other unions there are very few women, more in welding than any of the other trades. Women are expected to do the same job as the men in what ever trade they are in and it is very hard work. We are a mix of about 10 different unions who belong to the Pacific Coast Metal Trades (other than the carpenters who removed themselves from this group).

I completed high school and 1 year of college and never would have imagined myself in the job I have worked. I am very glad I got into the industry as it provided me a wage that has provided me with the ability to have my farm and a life that is very comfortable. My daughter is now also a laborer with Pac Ship, although she spent two years as a welder at Safe Boats. She decided that welding was too hard on the body as a ship/boat builder. She hopes to learn pipe welding and move out of the shipyard industry someday. She comes from a dual shipyard family, mom laborer, dad welder and is actually 4th generation although the first two were more short term. My grandpa (not sure how long) and dad (about 1 year) both worked for Todd Shipyard which I didn't find out until after I had worked there for a while.

I joined the Shipscalers Union July 26th 1974. I went to work for Todd Shipyard on Harbor Island as a Laborer. The Shipscaler Union was taken over by the Laborers Union, local 252, sometime in the late 70's early 80's. I had never even heard of the shipyard work before but had met some people that worked there. The first day I worked they put me shoveling wet sand under a spool by myself. I thought do I really want to do this but came back the next day and must have passed the test. I learned that work is different every day; there are good jobs and bad jobs and they all eventually go away and another task shows up. I have done everything from hauling steel and garbage all day, fire watching, cleaning the ships to sell back to the customer to water blasting and cleaning bilges and everything in between. I have been a supervisor for many of my years of work. I have worked on all kinds of ships, Naval, fishing and commercial. I have worked repair jobs on the aircraft carriers at PSNS for the last 14 years where our company has a contract with the Navy. When people ask me what a laborer does I often reply "anything asked of you that is legal and moral". Todd Shipyard was bought out two years ago by Vigor Industries. At that time I had just applied for and was awarded the position of Project Coordinator. I now assist in bringing in the trades women and men for the work we have. I have been very thankful for my job all of these years and all of the wonderful people I have met. I have had the good fortune of working for the same company for 38 years I hope to spend a few more years here.

I found out about the site from; Kathryn Merritt who works for Vigor Industries and was a carpenter. I have encouraged other women to submit their stories also.

There are really none of the black women left from that era still working with us and have not see or heard from them in years.

Virginia "Anne" Carlson

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Virginia "Anne" Carlson

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[Unknown User], “Laborers Union 252,” Tradeswomen Archives, accessed December 14, 2017, http://tradeswomenarchives.com/items/show/283.

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