Meet Jeannette Bradshaw

IBEW Local 58 Registrar

“You need to have a skill no one can take away.”  Jeannette Bradshaw, IBEW Local 58 Registar speaks with us about her journey in the trade which started in the field and expanded to important work for Local 58 with elected officials and policy makers.  #WICWeek
  1. HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE TRADE?

Jeannette first applied in 1999 after her dad suggested she go into the trades.  She did not pass the math requirements on the test, even though she was an honors student in high school where she went to a college prep high school. In January 2001, she applied again, in February she took her test, in April she had her interview. During this waiting period she was really getting burned out working in retail and quit her retail job the first week in June, and on June 26th she got the call from IBEW!! She made it into the program! 

2. WAS THERE SOMEONE WHO INFLUENCED YOU IN THE TRADE? 

Jeannette’s mom and dad were both influential. Her dad was a carpenter by trade, and her mom worked for Mobile Oil for the corporate owned stations, where she trained franchise Mobile gas stations. Her father told her, “You need to have a skill no one can take away.”  These words of wisdom have stuck with her ever since. Her grandfather was also in the union and was a home builder. 

3. WHAT SHE DID BEFORE THE TRADE, SCHOOL? 

Jeannette was a retail manager while attending Wayne State University for one year. She wanted to be a geologist, but she knew school was just not working out so she decided to join the Navy in 1995 and did go through boot camp but did not make it.  She met a Marine, got married in 1997 and moved out of state, was divorced and returned to Michigan.

Jeannette’s life experiences working, college, Navy then marriage and divorce set the stage and shaped how she handled getting into the IBEW at 27 years old in 2001. She was now more mature and knew where she needed to focus.  Once she got into the Trades she found so much self-confidence. 

4. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PLACES YOU’VE WORKED? 

She worked many different jobs using tools and her hands well before she got into the political position of Registrar.   Her jobsite work included time at Water Works Park in Downtown Detroit, Compuware, Parklane Towers, Hartland High School, Royal Oak Beaumont Hospital, Chrysler Jefferson North Plant, Pole Town and Sterling Heights Assembly.  Her acronym for IBEW is “I Be Every Where”!

In 2009 she was elected Recording Secretary, in 2012 Political Registrar at Local 58.  In 2013, was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to the Board of Canvassers, became Vice Chair and then Chair the Board. She was reappointed by Governor Snyder in 2017 as a standing member and is now Chair of the Board again till 2021. 

Jeannette has held many positions for the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO, from a Trustee, to VP, and just elected Executive VP. In 2016 she was President of the Michigan Maintenance Trade Ports Council. 

5. WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT WHAT YOU DO? 

She says the trades “make a difference in people’s lives.” She enjoys helping people and when she does that it makes her happy. She learned from her Grandfather when she was 10 years old, “If you don’t like what you’re doing, you’re doing the wrong thing.” She remembers this well from him and this made a huge impact

6. WHY DO YOU FEEL ITS IMPORTANT FOR WOMEN TO CONSIDER THE TRADES? 

Jeannette says “If not women, then who else?” It’s a great way to get dirty! And it really gives you a sense of pride, she loves it.   Her first foreman was Elaine Crawford, aka known as the “First” everything lady in the trades. Was so lucky to have her as a mentor. She was the first woman executive board member, first President of the local, etc.  

7. ADVICE YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN STARTING OR GROWING A CAREER WITH US? 

Never change who you are just to fit in. Go to the job, do your work, don’t look at just because you are a woman you need to prove something or be better. Always ask for advice, and don’t be afraid to say that you need help. The trades can be very dangerous jobs so always make sure you are doing the job properly.  Women do not compromise yourself.  Make sure you take care of yourself physically in the trades. You don’t have to be a super woman. 

Be true to yourself, talk to other members, talk to the men also in the trade…they are more than happy to help, ask a lot of questions. No one is here to hold your hand, you have to take initiative also and develop a thick skin.