Conference in Edison Honors Women Pioneers in Carpenter’s Union


EDISON, NJ - The Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters hosted the first Sisters in the Brotherhood (SIB) “Leading the Way” Conference at the new Carpenters Training Center in Edison last weekend.

The three-day conference brought together current and retired women carpenters, elected officials and local businesses/organizations to honor 14 Pioneer Sisters – female union carpenters who have spent more than 20 years on the job site paving the way for other aspiring tradeswomen.

According to the release from the NRCC:

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Among those who were honored were:

⦁    Ramona Amilani – A Union carpenter from Local 255 and resident of Mays Landing, NJ, Ramona spent her career mentoring others on the jobsite and working on various projects throughout New Jersey.

⦁    Sue Bellace (Mittermaier) – A Union carpenter from Local 167 and resident of Plymouth Meeting, PA, Sue was part of the first apprentice class that graduated out of Philadelphia.

⦁    Jean Burke -- A Union carpenter from Local 290 and resident of Ridge, NY, Jean was a forewoman who worked on the construction of Stony Brooke University in New York.

⦁    Candice Gasson – A Union carpenter for Local 291 and resident of Castleton, NY, Candice began her career working as a carpenter and mentor in 2001 and now works as an OSHA and full-time apprenticeship instructor at the NRCC’s Albany Training Center.

⦁    Janet Harrington – A Union carpenter from Local 252 and resident of Vineland, NJ, Janet has worked as a carpenter for the past 45 years and was part of the first group of women to work in the mills with men in her Local.

⦁    Ruth Knapp – A Union carpenter from Local 277 and resident of Cortland, NY, Ruth has 34 years of carpentry expertise and is still actively working on jobsites in New York years later.

⦁    Catherine McGuire – A Union carpenter from Local 279 and resident of Rockland County, NY, Catherine was mentored by the “best in the business” since joining the Union in 1988 and recently helped build the new Tappan Zee Bridge doing concrete formwork.

⦁    Cynthia Mills – A Union carpenter from Local 177 and resident of Washington D.C., Cynthia has been working as 35-year member in the carpentry industry and currently serves as the Sisters in the Brotherhood Committee Chair.

⦁    Justine Mt Pleasant – A Union Carpenter from Local 276 who lives on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation in Sanborn, NY, Justine began working as a carpenter in the 1970s and began her career working on the Cayuga Island Bridge near Niagara Falls.

⦁    Connie Pascale – A Union carpenter from Local 253 and current resident of Wayne, NJ, Connie moved to the U.S. from Italy in 1971 and has been a 27-year carpenter working on several projects throughout NJ (most notably the North Bergen Light Rail in 2004.

⦁    Shereen Quattromani – A Union carpenter from Local 254 and resident of Hamilton, NJ, Shereen entered the apprenticeship program in 1998 and has been a mentor, leader, member, shop steward and volunteer for the Union ever since, working on a variety of jobsites in her community.

⦁    Linda Quiring – A Union carpenter from Local 158 and resident of Philadelphia, PA, Linda has worked on a number of projects for the union, most notable aiding in the construction of Lincoln Financial Field (home of the Philadelphia Eagles).

⦁    Debra Rackley – A Union carpenter from Local 173 and resident of Berlin, MD, Debra is a 20-year carpenter who has worked on a plethora of jobsites throughout the State of Maryland and is a constant advocate/mentor to other aspiring tradeswomen.

⦁    Rita Steffe – A Union Carpenter from Local 491 and resident of Baltimore, MD, Rita is a 30-year member of the carpenters’ union and is now retired after her long, successful career as a union carpenter.

Over the course of the three-day conference, attendees had the opportunity to engage in educational workshops, panelist discussions, networking and solidarity with their fellow women carpenters.

Attendees had the opportunity to go to a variety of workshops covering a range of topics including:

⦁    Organizing 101 – An introduction to the basic concepts of organizing and tactics for identifying leaders.

⦁    Union Activism    -- A workshop on the importance of being an activist and how to strengthen the Union’s causes.

⦁    Social Media Training – A workshop showcasing how to use social media to network and share information.

⦁    From Construction to Corporate – A workshop teaching the steps towards transition to the corporate side of construction.

⦁    Technology in Construction – An overview of how to leverage technology to learn the changing landscapes of the construction industry.

⦁    Labor History Heroines – A workshop offering insights in the history and roles of women in the organized labor movement.

⦁    Moving Up on Your Pathway to Success: From Apprentice to Journeywoman – A workshop teaching the skills needed to elevate from apprentice to competent journeywoman.

“Our Sisters in the Brotherhood program has seen great success in the recruitment and retention of skilled women who make enormous contributions to our Union carpentry trade,” said Susan Schultz, Chair of the Sisters in the Brotherhood program and NRCC Council Representative. “This past weekend was a wonderful event and I’m so proud to have recognized the Pioneer Sisters who have shaped our Union over the years for the better and have given other women the chance to do the same for future generations.”

The mission of the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters’ Sisters in the Brotherhood program is to create a network of active, female union carpenters who promote the values of leadership, strength and unity within the labor movement. The valuable mentoring network provides the tools for NRCC Sisters to be confident and successful in a highly competitive industry. The NRCC is a firm advocate for involvement from Sisters in all levels of union leadership and activities. For more information on the Sisters program, please visit our website at:

“This historic conference was a wonderful opportunity for our Sisters to network, learn from one another and honor Pioneer Sisters who paved the way in the construction industry,” said John Ballantyne, NRCC Executive Secretary-Treasurer. “The Pioneer Sisters honored this weekend are true trailblazers. They have helped set the path for women to enter our trade and we thank them for their contributions to our Union carpentry trade. We hope that this conference provided a platform for tradeswomen to learn, network and grow professionally.”


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