Member Spotlight: Shtira Daniels

07.08.2024 Luke Marino

She’s a third-year apprentice in Local 157, a Bronx native, and one of the most politically active members of the NYCDCC! Check out her story to find out why this up-and-coming member decided to make a career for herself as a union carpenter!

This question should be easy for you since it’s only been three years since you became a member. Can you speak about how you came into the union and why?

  • Well before becoming a union carpenter I did a few different things. I was a teacher, then I worked as a braid tech, and I also did some childcare. They were all fine, but I wanted something more fulfilling. When I was younger, I used to build furniture around my house, but I never thought it was a career path for me as a woman. Then the pandemic hit, and I found myself looking for a real career. That’s when I heard about NEW (Nontraditional Employment for Women). The NEW program helped give me all the information I needed on a career in unionized construction. I chose the carpenters union and couldn’t wait to get started.

Do you think that NEW helped give you a leg up when you started as a first-year apprentice?

  • I definitely think that, but it wasn’t just NEW. Because of the pandemic, NEW was taking longer to get me into the union. I didn’t want to just sit around waiting, and I felt that I could use some more skills before starting my apprenticeship, so I went and enrolled in the union’s pre-apprenticeship program BuildingWorks. A lot of people think it’s strange having completed two pre-apprenticeship programs, but I needed them both. It was the perfect preparation for what I was going to be getting into as a woman in our industry. I’ve worked steadily since coming in and I think it’s the pre-apprenticeship programs that helped give me the solid foundation I needed to succeed. It’s that success that’s allowed me to live in New York City today.

It’s great that you found so much value in both programs. Can you talk a little bit more about how the union has allowed you to live in New York City?

That’s incredible and great to hear! Now, as a woman in the union, have you faced any challenges related to your gender?

  • You know, I’ve faced challenges like everyone. But because I’ve been with such great companies and have been around such amazing gentleman in the union that go out of their way to look out for me, any issue I’ve had is worked out because I have my union brothers by my side.

You’ve had such great experiences in the union. Are you involved with the Sisters in the Brotherhood?

  • Oh, yes. They are a big help. If there’s ever an issue or if I have a question and need help, no matter what time it is, even if it’s the weekend, they are there to help. A few who deserve a shoutout are Caridad Castro, Denise Echevarria, and so many others. Caridad especially has been incredible to me as an apprentice under her in the Carpenters Training Center.

What are you most proud of so far in your career?

  • Getting to prove to others and to myself that I can do the work. My very first job was with a small company doing an interior renovation in the Bronx. I was able to frame several rooms by myself as a first-year apprentice from the eighth floor to the 25th floor. I also got the chance to do cabinet work and finish work. I proved to myself and to everyone else that I can do the work and that I belong in our union.

Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years?

  • In 10 years, I want to be an instructor. Caridad Castro has been like a mentor to me, and I would love to be able to do that one day down the road for other young apprentices starting out in the union. But for now, I need to figure out what I’m best at, what my niche in the union will be so I can focus on that and be the best carpenter I can be.