Recent Local 2790 graduate, Shirley Rendon became the first woman to graduate into Local 2790 from the union’s apprenticeship program! Local 2790, which covers custom architectural woodwork and cabinetry, store interiors and fixtures, display and exhibit equipment and architectural metal products, is divided into two camps: Industrials and Shop. Shirley is now the first woman to become part of the Shops1 read about her journey below.
What attracted you to the Carpenters Union?
I’ve always had an interest in carpentry work. I was the Miss Fix-it in my house. In 2005, I saw a flyer for a pre-apprenticeship program for women but was pregnant at the time. I also had three other small children at home. However, I held on to that flyer for 10 years until later when my life circumstances changed and caused me to look for a better wage with benefits.
How do you feel your apprenticeship prepared you to tackle New York’s complex building landscape?
For most of my apprenticeship, I was in a shop building cabinets and installing when needed. It prepared me with the skills I need to work and I am now tasked with working in the field alongside other trades and companies.
How do you feel as the first woman apprenticeship graduate to join Local 2790?
It’s amazing to know I’m the first woman in my local to graduate from the union’s apprenticeship program. I was actually surprised to find out I was. I would love to see more women in my local and in the trades. It’s not easy working in this field and those who make it truly love what they do. I give 100 percent each day. My eldest son Zane Rivera saw how much I loved this union and the work I do, so he also joined and is currently a fourth-year apprentice in local 157.
What advice would you give to women interested in joining the union?
Times have changed and the guys on the job, from my experience, they really embrace women in the trades and they see our value. The satisfaction you get when you look around and know that you had a part in building this great city is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
What would you say to any non-union carpenters to show them the benefits of the unionized construction industry?
I think working in a union has given me a lot of relief — relief in knowing I will make a living wage, that I’m working in a safe environment, and in knowing that when this is over I’ll have my pension to continue living comfortably. Most importantly though, I have relief in knowing that I have a few thousand brothers and sisters that have my back because we are union strong.