High Voltage Women: Breaking Barriers at Seattle City Light
by Ellie Belew
224 pages, paperback, 6" x 9", photos, index, notes
$20.00 U.S./ $25.00 Australia (incl. GST)
First Edition, 2019
Distributor: Small Press Distribution
The gripping story of the ten courageous Electrical Trades Trainee (ETT) women who broke the gender barrier at Seattle City Light.
Brings to life the untold story of a multi-racial group of women who put their bodies on the line to gain a foothold in the male and largely white electrical trades at Seattle’s publicly owned utility. Female pioneers in the 1970s implemented affirmative action in the face of life-threatening sexism and racism. Some saw the trades as just a means to a better paycheck. But other participants sought to build alliances with men of color, white male union members, and office staff to change the culture of discrimination at City Light and in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local #77. Recounts 25 years of workplace activism. Draws the connections between Seattle’s feminist, civil rights, labor and socialist movements. Details the record of city politicians on affirmative action and job justice issues.
About the author: Ellie Belew’s history projects tell powerful, true stories. Through extensive interviews, archival research, and the trust of those she writes about, Belew delineates the key events that shape communities. Her books include Fully Involved: A History of the Washington State Council of Firefighters (2004) and Bringing Power to the People (2013), the history of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local #77.
Sample the book(pdfs)
--Table of Contents
--Preface and Introduction
--Chapter 1. A Time for Transformers
“The Power of Our Stories,” author Ellie Belew’s comments at Seattle book launch, 3/9/19
--Conor Casey & Louis R. Walter
--National labor focus
--Pacific Northwest focus
--Pacific Northwest labor focus
Images available for media use
--Seattle City Light mural detail
--High Voltage Women cover
--Author Ellie Belew
--ETT Daisy Jones on crew, 1974
--ETT press conference protesting layoff
--ETTs Durham, Bach and Cornish kicking up heels
--Pioneer tradeswomen honored, 1999
--Chart of Seattle City Light hiring by gender and race 1995-2017
For more information or to arrange interviews or readings, contact Red Letter Press at RLP@RedLetterPress.org, 206-985-4621.
“In the beginning, ten brave and daring women met with relentless resistance and overwhelming challenges that tested their minds and their bodies but never broke their spirit. This amazing story gives hope and inspiration to women in every workplace.”
Louis R. Walter, Business Manager/Financial Secretary, IBEW Local #77
“This is more than a story about the past; it’s the present and future. Every generation is called to carry the torch of justice for the next generation, often not by choice but by circumstances. The ETTs passed the torch to me and, through this book, I pass it to you!”
Nettie Dokes, first Black woman journey-level lineworker in the U.S.
“Bravo for this vital account of women and people of color struggling to break into the trades, and of their continuing struggle for fairness and justice.”
Michael Honey, Harry Bridges Chair of Labor Studies Emeritus, University of Washington
“As an apprentice, I faced adversity. Tradeswoman Heidi Durham courageously backed me up when others wanted to see me fail. Now I am a voice of encouragement to women and people of color entering the trades.”
Jeff Johnson, African American electrician constructor crew chief at Seattle City Light
“I am thankful for the women who blazed the way for others, especially a single mom like myself, to have a chance at a decent education and finances to raise my family.”
Suzette Shreffler, first Native American woman to complete City Light’s laborer apprenticeship; advanced to journey-level electrician constructor
"Ellie Belew ably traces a complex story into an accessibly written, detailed narrative. She deftly weaves the threads of the ETT tradeswomen, national and state affirmative action law, city policy, and on-the-ground demands by the activists.”
Conor Casey, Archivist, Labor Archives of Washington