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the sistersthe trades resourcescredits
Oral Interview (April 19, 2005) Real Media | MP3 Transcript (pdf)
Oral Interview (June 22, 1995) Real Media | MP3 Transcript (pdf)
Oral Interview (July 12, 1990) Real Media | MP3 Transcript (pdf)
iuoe apprenticeship

Wanted: Women in the IUOE
This brochure promotes the IUOE apprenticeship as an ideal opportunity for women. For Maitin and other apprentices (both women and men), the reality of their experiences fell short of the image portrayed.
Women & Apprenticeship (PDF)

NEW: Celebrating 30 Years
Maitin and many other NYC tradeswomen have ties to Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW), which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2008. Watch an inspirational video about NEW and some of the women whose lives it changed.

Yvone Maitin grew up in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. She attended junior high school in Puerto Rico, where she lived with her grandparents. Then she moved to San Diego with her parents and attended high school and a year of college there. She returned to New York City as a single mother with a two-week-old little boy.

For 11 years she supported herself and her son by working in a low-paid clerical job. Then she completed a six-month program at New York City Technical College that trained women in building maintenance and repair. She joined Local 30, International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), and in 1983 she was hired as an apprentice with the Port Authority of New York-New Jersey.

Her first job was at LaGuardia airport's large heating plant. The more senior of her two supervisors had a long-lasting negative impact on her training. Under his oversight she never acquired the thorough training necessary to master her trade. For three years he prevented Maitin and the other female apprentice from acquiring the hands-on skills that are the purpose of an apprenticeship. Instead he ordered them to clean, mop, sweep, dust, and paint the facility. When the women complained to the union, they were told not to worry about the situation.

As her apprenticeship drew to a close in 1986, Maitin learned that the supervisor had denied her and McMann—but not their sole male colleague—the right to take the qualifying test to become a mechanic, citing "a lack of preparedness." The two women successfully filed a grievance. They were allowed to take the test and were credited with 53 hours of overtime that had been unfairly denied them.

By this time Maitin was ready for a change. She accepted a job as a mechanic at the Port Authority bus terminal on 42nd Street, where she was part of a much larger and more diverse group. She also served as a shop steward, a post she held for two years. In 1998 she transferred to a solitary job as a mechanic at the George Washington Bridge. She usually took the midnight shift; her only contact with co-workers occurred during the shift change. The move was a calculated choice. She no longer had the problem of coworkers withholding technical information, but she would forego the chance to master her trade. In later years she took a job at JFK Airport.

She also limited her union activism. Although she lacks faith in unions as an institution, Maitin nevertheless holds union membership as an important value: “I know that if I wasn’t in a union, the guy next to me would be getting paid more money than I am, and I may not have the job, and he might get benefits that I don’t get.”

In her oral history Maitin describes the repercussions of being poorly trained and its effect on her career and working relationships. She also discusses racism and sexism, unions, activism, and her plans for the future.

AboutThe SistersThe TradesResources Credits
Copyright 2012
Jane LaTour/Talking History
  Portrait of Maitin by Gary Schoichet
IUOE apprenticeship brochure