Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562 pre-apprentice says she loves her work
By SHERI GASSAWAY
In 1996, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562 member Steve Knapp placed his union cap on his baby daughter’s head for a sweet father-daughter moment, which was captured in a snapshot.
Little did he know then that 20 years later, he would be attending his little girl’s swearing-in ceremony at the very union he worked. Lexi Knapp, 21, is now a Local 562 pre-apprentice working at Icon Mechanical.
Knapp, who enjoys math and problem solving, gained an interest in welding in high school and attended Pike Lincoln Technical School her junior and senior years. Shortly after graduation, her boyfriend, now fiancée, was critically injured in a car accident.
“After he was healed and we got back on our feet, I applied for the apprenticeship at Local 562,” Knapp said. “Six months later, I got the call, and I’ve been with the union ever since and love what I do.”
Knapp said her mom wasn’t surprised at her career decision, especially with her interest in welding in high school. She said her dad seemed excited, but she thinks he really wanted her to go to college.
“All you hear about in today’s world are degrees,” Knapp said. “My generation is told to go to college. In schools, the trades aren’t talked about and anything other than college is past their heads.”
BENEFIT OF TRADES CAREER
Fortunately, growing up in a union family, Knapp knew about the benefits of a career in the trades. In addition to her father, her uncle and two cousins are also members of Local 562.
For women considering the plumbing/pipefitting trade, Knapp said it’s important to keep yourself in good shape.
“Women deteriorate physically more quickly than men,” she said. “I go to the gym three to four times a week.”
Knapp also said women entering the trades have to have a “tough skin” because the majority of the workers on jobsites are men.
“Because you are a woman, you have to constantly prove yourself,” Knapp said. “So, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., I am a pipefitter, not a woman.”
For more information on joining Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562, visit local562.org or call 314-355-1000.