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International Operating Engineer - Summer 2019

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The quarterly magazine of the International Union of Operating Engineers

Member Spotlight From

Member Spotlight From Bank Teller to Gradesetter Local 3 member makes a name for herself initially scoffed at the idea. “I can’t do that kind of work,” she told him. “I didn’t even learn how to drive a stick shift before I was 30. I got my nails done and wore skirts to work!” day work. Kristyn’s life looks very different from when she wore those skirts to minimum-wage jobs in customer service and slept on friends’ couches. “I’m literally driving right now to pick up the keys to my very first house in Oakdale,” she said over the phone. She is the first one in her family to own a home. KRISTYN PAIR REMEMBERS how her father used to say she had no “follow-through.” She had a history of starting things but not finishing them, until November of last year, when she finished the Operating Engineers Local 3 Apprenticeship Program, graduating as a gradesetter. “I wanted to be a psychologist, but I couldn’t afford school … I thought about joining the police academy, being a teacher, traveling the world, but there was always something in my way.” Disappointing her dad was not her only problem, however. She could not afford to have much of a life. “I was struggling so bad, I was literally sleeping on my friend’s couch, because I couldn’t afford rent,” she said. At one point, she had four jobs, and every paycheck went to necessities. Eventually, she became a full-time bank teller and was making just over minimum wage. A business agent told her about the Operating Engineers Local 3 Apprenticeship Program, but she Nevertheless, the agent persisted, urging her to take the minimum qualification test and go from there. “It was kind of a whirlwind,” she said. “I brushed up on basic math skills, and I ended up getting a really high score on the test. They put me into the very next training class that opened up.” Before Kristyn knew it, she was staying at the California Operating Engineers Local 3 Training Center as a Probationary Orientation Period apprentice, and she was terrified. Her instructors took the time to help her, however, explaining that each step played a role in the end result. In between field and classwork, Kristyn studied hard and ended up scoring at the top of her class on every written test, and in her practical exams, she may not have always had the fastest time, but she had the nicest pad. “I would take my time and make sure I was doing it right,” she said. “ .. I knew that I could do it. I knew by the end of each week, OK, I might not be the best at this, but I can get it done. … This is actually really cool; this is something that I never thought I would be doing but how awesome that I actually can do it.” Today, Kristyn still operates equipment, but her main role is as a gradesetter, “reading plans, doing layout, putting numbers down on the ground to make sure the job gets built properly … ” Kristyn credits the Local 3 instructors for her success, because they taught her everything there is to know about GPS, along with advanced formulas and practical tips for day-to- “It was not even on the trajectory.” One of those differences is how proud her dad is of her now. The other is how important the union way of life became, as she started volunteering Local 3’s political activist program, the Voice of the Engineer (VOTE). “I’ve phone banked. I’ve precinctwalked … As I learned about the people that run our union and the reasons they do what they do with our union, the more I wanted to be involved. … my district is working hard for me and for the membership of our district. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. I’ve seen them in action doing stuff for us and it just makes me want to be a part of it. It makes me want to join in and help out. I plan to retire from the Operating Engineers. It was so not me at first, but I do it, and I get it done, and I’m not half bad at it.” For those women who may be afraid to operate equipment, Kristyn said, “It takes some common sense, some reasoning ability, and then you’re good to go. They’ll teach you everything you need to know … Be willing to put yourself into it, and you can do it.” [left] Local 3 member and Gradesetter Kristyn Pair works for Goodfellow Bros. [above] Kristyn Pair attends the first International Union of Operating Engineers Women in the Trades Conference in Crosby, Texas. [article & photos] Mandy McMillen, Local 3 8 INTERNATIONAL OPERATING ENGINEER SUMMER 2019 9

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