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Union organizer hopes to adopt gender initiative at their convention in August

Mandy Jo Ganieany is director of organizing for Painters District Council 30 for the International Union for Painters and Allied Trades.
Mandy Jo Ganieany
Mandy Jo Ganieany is director of organizing for Painters District Council 30 for the International Union for Painters and Allied Trades.

Director of Organizing for Painters District Council 30 Mandy Jo Ganieany is the first woman director in the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades' history.

Mandy Jo Ganieany joined a union 25 years ago as a drywaller with Peoria Local 157, within District Council 30, a part of the International Union for Painters and Allied Trades.

"To be honest with you, it was the money and the benefits," Jo Ganieany said in a phone interview with WVIK. "Being able to make a liveable wage on my paycheck as a single mom raising my children. That was what led me to the union trade."

Jo Ganieany previously worked as a drywaller in a non-union job but disliked the lack of benefits and unstructured pay.

"When I was given the opportunity to join the union, that was the first time I realized the value of your union card and the voice that it gave you," Jo Ganieany said.

She says the current pay is roughly $40 per hour with benefits. "That's a really good living wage for a single parent coming from the Fulton County area."

For the last seven years, Jo Ganieany has been an organizer and, in 2020, became the director of organizing for District Council 30.

A challenge Jo Ganieany faces in organizing is dispelling the negative connotations many believe about unions.

"Our children they pay attention to what we're saying," Jo Ganieany said. "I see it on a picket line when parents drive by, and I'm standing out there, and I see parents will drive by; depending on how mom and dad behind the wheel react to the picket line, you know it's going to plant that seed in that child in the passenger seat. Growing up that's what you're going to know as what unions are."

Jo Ganieany says women face challenges in the trades, including finding childcare and maternity leave.

"If you have a woman working on a job site and she's offered overtime but that daycare closes at five o clock, she is going to have to turn down that overtime to be able to pick up her children at the daycare," Jo Ganieany said. "This is not just a female issue; this is also a male one. But for our female members the concern here is she is also showing to her employers that she is not a part of the team. When they need you, they need you to work overtime, to be there, to be available, but if your daycare closes and you have to leave to pick up your children..you have to leave."

Jo Ganieany, co-chair of the IUPAT union's International Women's Committee, and 30 delegates from throughout the U.S. and Canada wrote a resolution to address the gender gap.

"And these female labor leaders are looking for some intentionality to an organizing campaign around being focused on recruiting female-identifying members," Jo Ganieany said. "It's about time that we introduced a resolution attached to an organizing campaign...all of the different departments throughout the IUPAT, as well as our signatory partner contractors, working collectively on this to move the needle to 20% by 2029.

It's a hard lift; it's absolutely a hard lift. Some building trades are better with their numbers, and some are not. I think if we focused collectively together than without a doubt, I think we can meet this goal and hopefully even succeed it."

Jo Ganieany says about 4% of building trades have women in the ranks.

The resolution will be introduced to the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades at its annual convention on August 28th in Orlando, Florida.

"There is work in this organizing plan for each one of the different departments," Jo Ganieany said. "This is not just going to be organizing; this is service; this is political; this is training, and this is going to be intentional with all of our departments working together to accomplish this goal."

(Wednesday July 10 at 10am) Correction: It's not Council District 30, but District Council 30, and we changed the word in Mandy's quote from "collectible" to "collectively."

Brady is a 2021 Augustana College graduate majoring in Multimedia Journalism-Mass Communication and Political Science. Over the last eight years, he has reported in central Illinois at various media outlets, including The Peoria Journal Star, WCBU Peoria Public Radio, Advanced Media Partners, and WGLT Bloomington-Normal's Public Media.