peters 051724SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Robert Peters joined forces with labor unions on Thursday to celebrate a groundbreaking moment in the state’s capital— the first-ever Tradeswomen Take Over Springfield event.

"It’s often forgotten that our country has a long history of women in trades, particularly as it relates to the labor movement during World War II," said Peters (D-Chicago), chair of the Senate Labor Committee. "Tradeswomen Take Over Springfield honors that history and connects it to the labor movement today. Women have made invaluable contributions to the labor movement, building a workforce where every individual – regardless of gender, race or background – has the opportunity to pursue a career in trades."

Organized by the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, Tradeswomen Take Over Springfield was established to highlight the achievements and strength of tradeswomen who play a significant role in the labor force while promoting trade opportunities. Peters, alongside IUPAT leaders, launched the day with a press conference featuring tradeswomen, labor union leaders and other lawmakers advocating for comprehensive legislation, workforce investments and networking opportunities to expand access to trade careers for women and minorities.

“I graduated at a time where I was expected to get married or go to college,” said Missouri State Senator Gina Walsh, a retired member of the Heat and Frost Insulators, who spoke at the event. “Someone introduced me to the trades, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Organizations, including Climate Jobs Illinois, are adapting their programs to support women in trades by providing tailored assistance such as child care, rental support, mental health services and stipends for tools and application fees to ensure their success in the field.

“It’s important to me and for generations to come to see more women as electricians, operating engineers, laborers and plumbers,” said Chynna Hampton, equity director at Climate Jobs Illinois. “For the last two years, we have been working to ensure that we alleviate barriers for individuals getting into the trades.”

Peters, known for his advocacy in support of labor-friendly initiatives, has been a champion for several measures that promote diversity and inclusion and protect workers from retaliation, such as Senate Bill 3649, aimed at banning employers from mandating meetings on political or religious matters. Additionally, he championed House Bill 2862 to enhance safety for temporary workers and has advocated for the Work Without Fear Act – Senate Bill 3464 – to extend protections against immigration-related retaliation to individuals, their families and household members.

“I am proud to be in Illinois, a pro-labor state,” said State Representative Stephanie Kifowit (D-Aurora), who is a cosponsor of Peters’ Senate Bill 3649. “I think that we are doing it right.”

Peters looks forward to building on the momentum created by Tradeswomen Take Over Springfield.