veronica session
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Oral Interview (July 26, 2006) Real Media | MP3 Transcript (pdf)
veronica session

Veronica Session
Veronica Session's work as a shop steward and a mentor reflect her commitment to being a positive influence, on and off the job..

Through her union Session also works with Habitat for Humanity. In May 2005 she and 36 other women pooled their skills to rebuild a five-story apartment building in Harlem. Read the story (pdf).


Veronica Session was born in Wilmington, North Carolina. Her parents, members of the United Automobile Workers, moved their family to New York, where her father worked at the General Motors plant in Tarrytown and her mother in an auto parts assembly plant.

As a student, Session acquired a strong background in math and an interest in the shop classes. She attended Brooklyn Tech High School, where she focused her studies on industrial design. After graduation she had two jobs as a bookkeeper and spent ten years with the Bank of Boston. None of those positions fulfilled her desire for satisfying work and a good salary.

Carpentry seemed to offer what she wanted. She searched for more than a year until she found an opportunity at Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. The foreman agreed to let her try the job for a week, and he was pleased with her work. At his suggestion she contacted the United Brotherhood of Carpenters about its apprenticeship program. She was accepted as an apprentice and spent her first year on the Brooklyn job. The foreman told Session that her skills were comparable to those of a third-year apprentice.

Her aptitude for the work, along with the excellent pay, good benefits, and the quality of on-the-job instruction, added up to a positive experience. After her four-year apprenticeship, Session made a smooth transition to working as a full mechanic, something that is often an issue for women in the trades.

Eighteen years later Session is highly satisfied with her career choice. In addition to her daily work, she serves as a shop steward for Local 926 and is an active participant in the Women's Committee, New York City District Council.

As a shop steward, Session is a conscientious trade unionist—willing to stand up to the boss but also to confront the union when necessary. At one point, she needed backup for herself when a coworker, a persistent sexual harasser, attacked her on the job. She filed a grievance, and the union investigated. The man was thrown out of the local.

Session continues her activism on all fronts. In August 2007 she participated in the making of a video being produced to promote the interest of young women in the construction industry. She participates in Career Day events at New York City schools under the auspices of the Women's Carpenters' Committee.

Session's interview provides insights into the important role of a shop steward and the critical difference that support and mentoring make to women who are entering male-dominated trades.

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Copyright 2012
Jane LaTour/Talking History
Photos of Sessions: Gary Schoicher