For Local 63 (Western Massachusetts) journeyperson Brandie Benoit, the decision to join SMART originally boiled down to respect: “I was working a nonunion ironworking job for a couple of years and started noticing I was not getting the same respect and wage as the other people in the shop,” she said. Today, after six years in the union sheet metal trade, she’s committed to making sure other women can access the same life-changing opportunity. Learn more in her sister story:
Goals in the future — any ambitions or changes to your career, growth or education?
My main goal for the future is to continue to network and do outreach to get more women in the trades; make it known how a union sheet metal career can really change a person’s life in all aspects.
What surprised you about your trade?
How many people you meet and grow with! Some of my strongest friendships and allies are people I have met on the job or through networking. It’s absolutely incredible, and I am so blessed.
How did you get into SMART?
I was working a nonunion ironworking job for a couple of years and started noticing I was not getting the same respect and wage as the other people in the shop. I was doing the same work, if not more. One of the guys told me about the apprenticeship accepting applications, so I just went right to the union hall and asked for the application. They ended up really needing people, so they had me fill out all the paperwork and do the tests that very same day. I was in my first SMART union shop the following week.
Tool you can’t live without?
Best advice you got as an apprentice?
If you don’t know something, ask. No question is stupid. The more questions you ask, the better you’re going to understand your trade.
What do you think about Tradeswomen Build Nations?
Tradeswomen Build Nations holds a special place in my heart because the networking and bonding experience is like no other. I help manage and run a group in Western Massachusetts for tradeswomen, so seeing the same aspect on a larger scale like that is outstanding. I encourage everyone to go at least once! It’s something you’ll never forget.
Are you active in trade-related activities such as career fairs, volunteer work or SMART Army events?
I am active as much as I can be! Work can get busy and the schedules always change but when the opportunities arrive I jump on them, and if I can’t I make sure to pass the word around.