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Mar
2016
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First Female President of Florida Building Trades Off to Tremendous Legislative Start

theresa king florida building trades

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In a recent interview for the website Fight for Florida, current Florida Building and Construction Trades Council President, Theresa King, reveals the triumphs and tribulations that have come with being the first women elected to her position.  The interview is part of the website’s “Labor Spotlight” series.

When asked about what led her to decide to run for her current position, King explained:

While I was an apprentice and then a Journeyman, I started getting involved with the Central Labor Council in my area.  I did canvass walks, phone banking, just anything that I could to make a difference. My local union would send me to Tallahassee to lobby during legislative session and they would have us lobbying on Building Trades issues. Every time someone would ask me to do something, either my local or with organizing, I did so passionately. To be an effective leader you must take on all kinds of roles and I never hesitated to work on what I could in the fight.  If you’re a good tradesman, man or woman, you do what you’re asked to do with the same passion as when you carry your tool bags. I’ve carried that mentality throughout my career as a tradesman and it was seen by others. When nominations for Florida Building Trades President began, I did not give it a second thought, but local leaders reached out and encouraged me to run. It was truly a shock.  I doubted myself asking, “With all the Building Trades activists you know in the state of Florida, why me?” I was told that my resolve, dedication to my work for my local union, and the passion I brought to my trade showed leaders from across the state that my heart was truly with the future of the Building Trades.

King countered a discussion of the difficulties facing the building trades in Florida with a major victory she delivered shortly after being elected:

Well, this 2016 Legislative Session did have a bill that would have been very detrimental to all local trade unions and the local municipalities who are trying to set up livable wages in their own local communities and hire a skilled workforce.  This bill would have restricted cities and counties here in Florida from setting up things like living wage ordinances and local hiring preferences, anything that the State Legislators saw as affecting local workers’ rights.  This particular year we were able to get that bill, one of the strongest anti-worker bills in the State of Florida, killed in its first Senate Committee. I’m honored to have such an amazing victory during my first year as President because many of the important lobbying and relationships built with legislators that led to this victory were built long before I stepped into this role. We do have another bill right now that is a 90-page “train wreck” of a piece of legislation that would make exemptions for apartment complexes to be able to hire maintenance companies to do all of their maintenance work.  In turn, they want to be able to say they will offer an unacceptably short course for the employees to take and that would somehow make them qualified. This is a dangerous proposal that affects the safety of both workers and occupants of apartment complexes.

Naturally, the incredible accomplishment of being the first woman in her position was addressed:

I know that as the first woman President of the Florida Building Trades, I’m going to bring a fresh new perspective, but I also hope that my role can be an inspiration to women working in the trades. Many women struggle to know if they can make a difference in their jobs and in their communities and I hope I can show them that they can.  I want women to know that with hard work and dedication they can take the trades anywhere they want to. I feel like I’ve been given an opportunity of a lifetime and I want women in the trades to know that they can also have that same opportunity.

Read the interview in its entirety on the Fight for Florida site.  

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