Mediaplanet: Why did you get into the trades?

Amanda Da Silva: Initially, I got into the trades because I wanted a better life for my kids but I also wanted more opportunities and to learn skills I could take with me.

MP: How has the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) changed your life?

ADS: With the help from LiUNA, within a year of working in the field, I have established myself in a trade that I can proudly say I am advancing in. I have acquired the skills I was hoping for with lots to learn every day.

MP: What has the LiUNA training program taught you?

ADS: The program that I took at the union was Construction Craft Worker. With this course, I was able to learn all the basics to get me started. The safety training enabled me to do my job safely and, more importantly, gave me the confidence to do my job well.

MP: What does it mean to be a LiUNA Apprentice and a member of the union?

ADS: Being a part of LiUNA, as a female, makes me very proud. I feel like I belong somewhere, to a family. I feel like I’m paving a pathway for other females that are entering this field.

MP: What are the benefits of being a LiUNA Member?

ADS: The benefits of being a LiUNA member are extensive — not only do we have our paramedical benefits but we have the benefit of having people on our side who have our backs. They ensure we are treated fairly and are always there to ensure we have job security.

MP: How are you breaking down barriers for other women in the construction industry?

ADS: I’d like to think that when other females see me working in this trade, they grow confident in themselves. I advocate on their behalf every time I have a conflict or am not being treated equally. This is how women in the industry can break down barriers for themselves and for others.

MP: How can we continue to eliminate the idea that the construction industry is only for men?

ADS: I feel like we need to continue to encourage other females to enter the industry by making them feel more comfortable with the skills required. We should also share the reality of being a female in the trades so there are no surprises when they get there. Perhaps we can mentor them or develop programs intended for females only and held by a female with some experience so attendees can relate more easily and not be afraid to ask questions.

MP: What would you tell young girls wanting to join LiUNA?

ADS: Don’t be afraid — stand confident in yourself and your skills, and most importantly, remember that if I can do it, so can you.