TWI has sponsored national and regional tradeswomen conferences since its inception including the first national tradeswomen conference at Laney College in 1983 bringing together 500 tradeswomen from all over the continent. Early on the Department of Labor Women’s Bureau was a frequent co-sponsor. Women attended these conferences however they could, hitching rides, bunking with sisters in the host city, tripling up in any reserved hotel rooms.
In the late 1980’s and 90’s a few building trades unions began to sponsor single trade regional women’s conferences and even national meetings in the late ‘90s. Gradually the unions began to pay expenses for their women delegates.
In 1999, TWI sponsored a dynamic multi-craft Northern California Tradeswomen Conference at Laney College. The energy of that Conference led to the California State Building Trades Council unanimously adopt a Resolution in 2000 pledging to intensify its efforts to recruit and retain women in all its affiliate unions. Tradeswomen Inc. and the State Building and Construction Trades Council (SBCTC) began a partnership which led to the first Women Building California Conference, a SBCTC sponsored multi-craft statewide conference in May 2002. TWI developed and managed the agenda. Over 200 tradeswomen attended, many for the first time as official representatives of their unions.
The Women Building California Conference became an annual event and has steadily grown in attendance and scope. In 2010 the National Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO became an official sponsor and the conference adopted a new name: Women Building California and the Nation (WBCN). WBCN 2014 smashed all previous attendance records with over 875 attendees. There is much more to tell about the Conferences. Please see www.sbctc.org for some great pictures and reports.
Tradeswomen Inc. has continued to develop its networks and lead policy and advocacy through the Conference. Tradeswomen Inc. is a major partner in the National Advocacy Taskforce on Tradeswomen Issues, a coalition of advocates that developed out of networks created at the WBCN Conference in 2010. The Taskforce sponsors a major Policy Forum at the annual conference. In 2014, Tradeswomen Inc. was one of 4 non-profits that sponsored a full day’s National Institute on Women in Pre-Apprenticeship with the support of the California Building Trades. The Institute, only in its first year, was a significant success with a sold out attendance of 125.