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New Yorkʼs steamfitters union elects first ever female leader

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

In an industry dominated by men for over a century, one New York City woman is making history by becoming the first female business agent of a local steamfitting union.

Janet Powers was recently named the lead union representative for Steamfitters Local 638, becoming the first woman to lead the  union based in Eastern Suffolk County since the Union’s inception in 1884.

“I’m very honored to represent my union,” she told Real Estate Weekly.

It isn’t the first time Powers has made history — she was also the first woman nominated and elected to the union’s finance committee, serving two terms between 1995 and 2000. In addition, she won a position on the union’s executive board, where she served from 2007 to 2012.

Steamfitters are crucial to the functioning of a building — they design, install and maintain fire sprinklers, heating and cooling systems, and steam and water piping in tens of thousands of commercial, retail, residential, and industrial buildings in New York City.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters is projected to grow 12 percent from 2012 to 2024, faster than any other occupation. As of 2014, only 1.6 percent of those employed as steamfitters, pipefitters, pipelayers and plumbers, were women.

Click here to read more in Real Estate Weekly