By SHERI GASSAWAY
Candice Rejmenczak, president of Painters Local 471 in Alton, Ill., is the first woman to win the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) Job Corps Instructor of the Year award.
Rejmenczak was honored with the award at the 32nd Annual IUPAT Convention in Las Vegas. She also received an award in recognition of her outstanding performance as a pre-apprenticeship instructor for the IUPAT Job Corps Program.
“I was both surprised and honored to be recognized with the awards,” Rejmenczak said.
The IUPAT has been involved in Job Corps since 1969 and is one of five building trades unions offering training programs through the organization. It was created to give at-risk and underprivileged youth academic and vocational training that would prepare them for the job market and end the cycle of poverty.
Rejmenczak, a 10-year member of Local 471, has been a St. Louis Job Corps instructor for two-and-a-half years. The program takes one year for students to complete and consists of on-the-job training, social skills development and general education.
Painters District Council 58 Business Agent Joe Mueller said he has visited Rejmenczak at the Job Corps program and watched her interaction with the students.
‘CARE, ENERGY IS OFF THE CHARTS’
“The amount of care and energy she puts into the program is off the charts,” he said. “And she does so much to help those kids get off to a good start, even assisting them with transportation to and from jobsites in some cases.”
Prior to her work with the St. Louis Job Corps, Rejmenczak was a journeywoman painter and foreman at All American Painting. She has served as president of Painters Local 471 for the last year and a half. Before being elected president, she was the recording secretary of her union for four years.
Rejmenczak, of Bethalto, Ill., also serves as a delegate on the Painters District Council 58 Executive Board and sits on the executive board of the Madison County Federation of Labor.
ADVOCATE FOR WOMEN AND MINORITIES
“Candice wears many hats and works crazy hours,” Mueller said. “She is an amazing woman and demonstrates it every day as she advocates for women and minorities to break through the barriers in the construction industry, and she is always active in volunteering.”
Just some of the groups Rejmenczak has volunteered with include Habitat for Humanity, Bucket Brigade, Painters and Allied Trades for Children’s Hope and local women’s shelters and food pantries. Rejmenczak also is politically active to ensure that politicians advocate for women and minorities.
MOM OF FOUR
Rejmenczak, a mother of four of children, grew up in a union household with her father working as a carpenter. Seeing the benefits a union job created for her family, she also chose a union career and encourages women and minorities to do the same.
“All you need to do is work hard, keep your head up and show others that you belong, because you do,” she said.