Operating Engineers Local 513 member named MOWIT Tradeswoman of the Year

Laborers’ Apprenticeship Program, local tradeswomen, contractors recognized at gala


EXTREMELY PROUD OF OUR SISTER for her well-deserved award” is the compliment to Operating Engineers Local 513’s Brittoni Calhoun (third from left) from Local 513’s President/Business Manager Tim Sappington (fourth from left) on Brittoni being named the Tradeswoman of the Year by Missouri Women In Trades at its annual Blue Collar/Black Tie awards gala Sept. 20. Also honoring Brittoni are (at left) Roger Struckhoff, retired recording secretary/On-the-Job trainer, Dan Bottoms, J.A.T.F. administrator, and (at right) Organizer Brian Graff, Workforce Development.  – Photo by Heidi Calhoun

Brittoni Calhoun, an Operating Engineers Local 513 member, is the 2021 Missouri Women in Trades (MOWIT) Tradeswoman of the Year.

Calhoun, of Castle Contracting, received the award at MOWIT’s Third Annual Blue Collar/Black Tie Awards Gala Sept. 17 held at Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 union hall in St. Louis. The event celebrates tradeswomen’s achievements and the great strides made by local contractors and unions to support women in the building trades.

Calhoun began her career in the construction industry as a carpenter. She joined Operating Engineers Local 513 eight years ago, is an active member of the union and has never missed a union meeting. Her work ethic and commitment to growth in her profession has provided opportunities for other women and minorities.

“We are extremely proud of our sister for her well-deserved award,” said Local 513 President/Business Manager Tim Sappington. “Brittoni participates in all of our union’s functions and she is always willing to lend a hand. No one deserves the award more. She’s earned it.”

Calhoun, a journey-level heavy equipment operator, thanked Local 513, Castle Contracting and her family and friends for their support over the years.

“This is a special evening, not just for me, but for all tradeswomen,” Calhoun said. “I want to give a shout out to all the people who have been in my corner from Day 1.”

Castle Contracting shared Calhoun’s photo and win on its Facebook page.

“Congratulations on this recognition, for your dedication to developing your craft, your commitment to do what is needed for the project, the positive can-do attitude you bring to the jobsite daily and your active participation in Local 513, the company wrote. “We are proud you are on the Castle team.”

Quiana Tate, a 19-year member of Laborers Local 42, and Sharon Sitler, a 36-year member of Carpenters Local 92, were also recognized at the gala with Tradeswomen of the Year Honorable Mentions.

Tate is an advocate for her union, actively recruiting and advancing women in her field, and is a volunteer with the Hawthorne Leadership School for Girls and the Salvation Army Family Haven.

Sitler, who has served as foreman and steward on many projects, retired this year. She has mentored many carpenters on the job and volunteered at several of MOWIT’s survival skills and Girl Scout workshops.

The Missouri-Kansas Laborers District Council’s Construction Craft Laborers’ Apprenticeship Program won the organization’s 2021 Union/Apprenticeship Program of the Year award.

Its program tracks female participation and provides outreach, continuing education and mentoring for tradeswomen. There is also a specific program in place for hiring women. Female participation in the program has increased 11 percent over the past year and nine percent of its apprentices in St. Louis are women.

Additionally, the program provides adequately sized personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves, body harnesses, vests, shirts and safety glasses for its female participants.


KAI Build, which is signatory with the laborers’ and carpenters’ unions, was honored as the Contractor/Subcontractor of the Year. KAI also tracks female participation and currently has a workforce that consists of 25 percent women in boots on the ground, an increase of 25 percent over the last years.

KAI provides female restrooms at all job sites and regularly stocks smaller sized PPE for its female workers. The company has a program in place to hire and support tradeswomen and actively hires women for supervisory positions. Currently, 25 percent of KAI’s workforce in leadership in the field consists of women.

Pearl Street Electric, proudly affiliated with IBEW Local 1, received a Contractor/Subcontractor of the Year honorable mention. In the last two years, the company has hired several female apprentices and brought them into the company management to get training as project engineers and managers. It has also increased its female workforce from five to 10 percent.

Kevin FitzGerald, a Heat & Frost Insulators Local 1 retiree, was recognized with the Gina Walsh Lifetime Achievement/Legacy award for his volunteerism and organized Labor activism. He has walked picket lines for several striking unions, attended numerous pro-union rallies and raised money for the St. Louis Labor Council’s $5 for the Fight and many other charitable organizations.

Founded in 2008, MOWIT is a non-profit organization that provides tradeswomen with support group meetings, job information and referrals. It also maintains a work list as a resource to the construction community. For more information, call (636) 926-6948 or visit mowit.org.


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