Alexis Pope had worked in a variety of fields, including many in “male-dominated” occupations; like being a taxi driver. But, she never really felt like she had a meaningful career until six years ago when she joined Pile Drivers Local 34 in the Bay Area of California.
“I love the work. Seeing major projects going up, knowing that you are contributing to the community,” said Pope. “It may not be glorious but what we do makes a huge difference to how the city and state run. And it gives you great pride when you can drive over a bridge and say ‘I helped build that.’”
Pope became certified as a diver in Louisiana but work was scarce following an oil spill, so she moved to California. When asking around for work she was advised to go to the Union.
“I didn’t know anything about unions. But I made sure to attend all the Local 34 meetings, go to my apprenticeship classes and ask questions,” she said. “I joined because that was the way to get work. Now I know that being union is the best decision a person could make.”
In addition to diving, Pope does pile driving and welding work to keep busy. She recently came to the Carpenters International Training Center to get her certification in Underwater Welding and Kirby Hat. She also has attended the Department of Education and Training’s Third Year Apprentice program. “Coming to the leadership program really opened my eyes,” she said. “I’m proud to be a part of an organization that is changing the culture of the construction industry.”
Pope is active with her local Sisters in the Brotherhood committee and helps recruit and mentor women. She finds mentoring very rewarding. “If I can help a woman get through the tough times and avoid some of the roadblocks I faced then it is worth it,” said Pope. “Being in this industry is tough for all apprentices, not just women. It takes a special kind of person to do this work.”