Judaline Cassidy, Tradeswoman Activist
Judaline Cassidy talks about her overcoming discrimination in the workplace, gaining equal pay, and access to the plumber’s union. Cassidy recounts how overall, she is most proud of living up to her great grandmother’s dream of being a good person.
- Just being on a construction site is being bold. You have all of these men just staring at you, and you have to walk in like, "I belong here," because they look at you like you don't belong. So I used to have this philosophy of fake it 'til you make it, and now I just own it. I grew up in Trinidad and Tobago. I grew up with my great grandmother because my mom didn't want to raise me, and I didn't have a lot of confidence in myself. I used to wish that I wasn't here on the planet, but my great grandmother, she motivated me, and she would tell me, "You are here for a reason." I fell in love with plumbing. I really did. I get to create things with my hands, and I get to solve a puzzle. It's not just toilets. It's hospitals, schools. Einstein said if he ever have to come back in another life, he would be a plumber, because it's a noble craft. Being a woman, a black woman in plumbing, it's very difficult because right away, the roles that you get is the one of coffee. Unloading, nobody would give you the opportunity to be the girl working with the mechanic to read the prints and figure out how this beautiful thing called plumbing is done. So I waited for like, they must go to the bathroom at some point, right? So when the guys went to the bathroom, I started doing the tasks that they were performing, So I could show them that I'm capable. And as a woman, you can be sexually harassed, but I tend to use humor to change situations. A lot of times, I tell them, "Isn't it amazing? "You're six feet two, and I'm what? Four feet eleven, "and we get the same paycheck? Boom." I seen so many women come in and leave. I made a conscious effort to reach out to all the girls now. When I see them at the union meeting, I tell them, "The days when you want to cry and you want to leave, "call me, and maybe I can get you over that hurdle." I truly love the union, because this is the one field where I'm an African-American woman, I'm black, and I don't get 65 cents. I get the same as a guy. He gets a dollar, I get a dollar. Being a single mom, I knew if I didn't have the salary that I have, I would've never been able to take care of my daughter. I think we need to let girls start touching tools earlier. Just like they did with coding, and have girls coding earlier, it opens up a whole new world, that, "I can use a drill. I can put a faucet in." and they can choose to be a plumber, they can choose to be an architect, they can choose to be an electrician. I'm most proud of the fact that I lived up to my great grandmother's dream of who she said I was gonna be. She said I was gonna be a good person. She said she saw that in me, and I didn't see that in myself. She was right. I'm here for a reason.