Meet Susan Schmitz
Susan Schmitz, LU 30, left the army in 1999. After her
service, she spent several years in public relations for the tech industry. But it wasn’t until just six and a half years ago that she came into the apprenticeship through Helmets to Hardhats.
Schmitz took 3rd Year Apprentice Leadership Training at the ITC, and when she journeyed out in 2017 she took Journeyman Leadership training.
Now she is a foreman on her crew and has participated in the foreman training at NWCI. Schmitz attends Sisters in the Brotherhood monthly meetings and attended the Sister’s Conference at the ITC last fall. “
“I enjoy the camaraderie of being on a crew again, and like the military, your life may depend on someone you work closely with. You know people have your back.”
The Veterans in the Brotherhood meet monthly at the Regional Council office on Burnside every first Wednesday of the month. They build bonds and camaraderie, lend support to one another, and work toward building a stronger union. Aside from discussion on hot button union issues like bargaining and work outlook, they brainstorm ways to recruit more veterans to our union and ways to better retain those who are already members. Outreach efforts have increased at events aimed at career paths for veterans, and UBC members have played a large part.
Pacific Northwest Carpenters Institute (PNCI) enrollment numbers show that 7% of the active union carpenter apprentices are veterans. This places PNCI as one of the largest employers of veterans in the state of Oregon according to BOLI. Those participating in Veterans in the Brotherhood hope to increase the number of veterans in our trade even more.
Her best piece of advice for people coming into the apprenticeship, “Keep an open mind, look for something new to learn,” Schmitz emphasized this by her own example. “I started doing concrete work not quite sure how that would work for me, and turned out I loved it.”
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