Sister Story: Alicia Mijares

October 25, 2023

Local 104 Business Representative Alicia Mijares has been a proud union sheet metal worker for 28 years – a “workhorse” on the job and an active union member in her free time. Now, as an elected leader at her local, she brings the same passion to representing SMART members and expanding public knowledge of the sheet metal trade. Read more in her Sister Story:

What unique strengths do you bring to your trade?

I love the sense of accomplishment you get when seeing your project done right! I was a workhorse who showed up every day and was active in the union in my off time.

What do you love to do when you are not at work?

I basically work so I can travel. Last summer I went on a dream trip to Italy, and next year I am hoping to go to Spain. My other hobby is my pets. I have four dogs at my house, three of them rescues and shelter dogs. We all love taking walks and being outdoors.

Goals in the future — any ambitions or changes to your career, growth or education?

It is incredibly rewarding being a business representative, and I want to continue working for the membership and perpetuating union sheet metal.

What surprised you about your trade?

There are so many great tradesmen and women who are ready to share knowledge and experience. The sheer diversity of work and the skills and knowledge required to be the best in our trade was a surprise.

What do you find frustrating about your job/trade?

The conservative bias within the membership is frustrating because members let social issue “dog whistles” turn their heads. They lose focus on who our real friends are and support those who tell them what they want to hear. If we all supported those who truly support us, we would OWN the construction industry.

How did you get into SMART?

I was working two jobs to make ends meet when a union officer came in to pick up his pizza. He looked at me and asked me if I liked what I was doing. I told him that that was the second job I had been to that day that I didn’t like. He handed me his card and said that Local 104 was looking for apprentices. I signed up, took the test and got into the trade.

Tool you can’t live without?

My hearing protection! I know a few construction workers who are my age and have significant hearing loss. Wear your PPE!

Best advice you got as an apprentice?

“Never turn down overtime.” If the work is there, take it. There will be times when work is slow, and you can enjoy the down time and relax.

What do you think about Tradeswomen Build Nations?

I love this conference. I wish that each local would send superintendents and foremen to this conference so they can hear our stories and just feel the energy in the room. This conference is part of the phenomenal support system that sisters in the trade have created for each other. I think it’s a valuable tool as a part of retaining women who get into the trade.

There is going to be a lot of work all over the United States, and there will be a shortage of skilled labor. I think that women will fill a lot of the spots, and I look forward to seeing our ranks grow within this trade.

Are you active in trade-related activities such as career fairs, volunteer work or SMART Army events?

I am very active in career fairs, and in Campaign for Jobs events. This is how we will grow our union and our market share. We can never be complacent and think we will just get handed the work. We have to constantly maintain relationships, engage with the community, and show through our craftsmanship and professionalism that it makes sense to hire union sheet metal workers.