Machinery & Motherhood: Celebrating Our Union Moms


Machinery & Motherhood: Celebrating Our Union Moms

Akeethia Brown has two tough and rewarding jobs. She’s starting her career as a heavy machine operator with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49, operating cranes and bringing buildings to life. She also happens to be a single mother to her daughter, Samari. For Kee, these jobs are a perfect match.

Kee was working part-time in the maintenance department at Summit Academy, but the classes they taught were what excited her the most, especially the heavy equipment class. Always looking for a new challenge, she joined the program, graduated and landed a job with Lunda Construction soon after.

Her first job was no small project, either. You can thank Kee for the new St. Croix Crossing, her first worksite as a union apprentice, where she operated a 2250 Manitowox Crane off a barge on the St. Croix River. “My first day out here I felt like a little bug… Everything was so different, and it was my first time involved in anything construction related,” she said. “But everyone here is so helpful and encouraging.”

Not only does Kee love what she’s doing, but it helps her provide a good life for her family, with quality wages and benefits. “The health care with the union is amazing,” she said.

Her daughter was her main motivator in jumpstarting her career in the union, and the move has made an impact for them both. “I walked into my daughter’s classroom one day, and all of her friends who are little girls came out to me and were so excited and said, ‘Wow! That’s so cool your mom is in construction!” Kee said. “It’s not only cool that I’m inspiring myself, but I can inspire younger girls to show them that they can be in this field.”

Kee’s hard work is paying off. Due to her diligent work ethic and squeezing in extra hours practicing at the training center, she was named Apprentice of the Year at the 2018 Women Building Success Awards.

Join us in wishing a Happy Mother’s Day to Kee Brown, our other union moms and mothers everywhere!