Author Ellie Belew will talk about her new book High Voltage Women: Breaking Barriers at Seattle City Light, which chronicles the gripping story of how a multiracial group of woman warriors put their bodies on the line to gain a foothold in the male, and largely white, electrical trades at Seattle’s publicly owned utility. This important new history tells the story of women’s fight to gain entry into electrical trades at Seattle City Light beginning in the 1970s. Female pioneers came forward to implement affirmative action in the face of life-threatening sexism and racism. Some saw the trades as just a means to a better paycheck. But other, more radical, participants sought to build alliances with men of color, white male union members, and office staff to change the culture of discrimination at City Light and in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 77. High Voltage Women offers insights into the role of feminists in Seattle’s vibrant activist and labor movements and exposes the sorry record of city politicians who acted as roadblocks to social progress.
Community historian Ellie Belew has captured the drama, the events, and the personalities in an extensively researched saga. Belew is the author of Bringing Power to the People: The History of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local #77, and Fully Involved, which records the experiences of Washington’s professional fire fighters and their role in the labor movement.