The SFPUC has a deep responsibility to the local communities we serve as we make multibillion-dollar investments in critical capital projects, such as the Sewer System Improvement Program (SSIP). By focusing on efforts to strengthen its diverse local workforce, the agency helps ensure its ratepayers benefit not only from the SFPUC’s direct investment in the region’s capital infrastructure but are also capable of meeting the local construction demands of today, as well as the broader workforce demands of tomorrow. Our collaborative partnerships with the Office of Economic and Workforce Development’s (OEWD) CityBuild Program, the building and construction trades, and local community-based organizations, strive to connect local youth and adults with learning, apprenticeship, job training, and employment opportunities that are inclusive and representative of the vibrant local communities of San Francisco and the SFPUC’s surrounding regional service territory.
Infrastructure’s Workforce and Economic Program Services (WEPS) team is delivering worker profiles of individuals, particularly those who have been historically economically marginalized, and who have achieved some remarkable successes, and which are representative of the SFPUC’s efforts to build a more inclusive environment that welcomes all of those who are willing and ready to help build our future. Ieisha Morris is one such example and we are proud to highlight and share her story.
Ieisha Morris is a Richmond native and current resident of Hayward. She is a proud mother of two and a 2015 graduate of the Cypress Mandela Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program, a training partner and community service provider of the SFPUC.
As an African-American woman, Ieisha knew her success in the male-dominated construction industry would be difficult. But after a series of different jobs that she considered to be non-career paths, such as working at Federal Express and in various roles as a dental assistant, child care assistant, and janitorial services provider, she was ready to take on the rigors of a profession where women were often the minority.
During her Cypress Mandela pre-apprentice training days, Ieisha was focused on being the best that she could be in preparation for the physical and mental demands of a career in Alameda County’s Construction Building trades. Like many of her peers in the program, choosing which trade to pursue after graduation was one she had to consider carefully. She ultimately decided to join the Laborers’ Apprentice Program.
During construction of the SFPUC’s Calaveras Dam Rehabilitation Project, the prime contractor’s superintendent, Doug Whipple needed an apprentice laborer. As an SFPUC Service Territory resident and qualified apprentice laborer, Ieisha was eligible to work on the project to help the Dragados/Flatiron/Sukut Construction Joint Venture meet its local worker participation requirement.
Through the efforts of SFPUC’s Workforce and Economic Programs staff, working in collaboration with the Laborers, the prime contractor, and other city staff, Doug was introduced to Ieisha and was impressed by both her work ethic and construction skills. After meeting with her, Doug offered her an entry-level opportunity on the project.
Since completing her tour at Calaveras Dam late May 2019, Ieisha is currently serving as a union contractor for Roebbelen Contracting Inc. where for the next two years she will be working on an elementary school project outside of Tracy. She is very grateful to everyone that’s helped her in her career to date, and credits Cypress Mandela, the SFPUC, Dragados/Flatiron/Sukut JV, and the Northern California Laborers’ Local #304 for the opportunity to represent women in a non-traditional career. She is proud of her achievement working in the trades where she’s been able to secure a living wage with union benefits for herself and her family.
Ieisha’s story is just one of many made possible through the partnership of the SFPUC and its stakeholders who work together to provide opportunities to those willing to make radical life changes and sacrifices in order to enter a new career in the construction industry. As a woman working in the construction industry, Ieisha is just one of several trailblazers who have overcome significant barriers to pursue their careers while working on the SFPUC’s capital programs, including the Sewer System Improvement Program.
If you’re inspired and would like to find out more about the SFPUC and the City’s job training programs, visit sfwater.org/workforce and oewd.org/city-build.