Alton, Illinois, a river town about 45 minutes north of St. Louis, lays claim to having been the home of the world’s tallest man, but now there’s a new celebrity in town: Candice Rejmenczak, president of Painters Local 471 in Alton, Illinois, is the first woman to win the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) Job Corps Instructor of the Year award.
Rejmenczak received the award in Las Vegas at the 32nd Annual IUPAT Convention, where she was also recognized for her outstanding performance as a pre-apprenticeship instructor for the IUPAT Job Corps Program. She has been a member of the 471 for ten years and a St. Louis Job Corps instruction for two and a half. This program provides at-risk and underserved young people with academic and vocation training to help them begin a career in the trades. Students take a year with on the job training, social skills development and general education.
IUPAT has been involved in Job Corps since 1969; four other building trades unions offer training programs though the organization as well.
Candace, a mother of four, grew up in a “trades” family. Her father was a carpenter and she felt his union members benefited the family. As she grew up, she also chose a union career. As a union member, she has been a long-time advocate for women and minorities to participate within the industry. She also volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, Bucket Brigade, Painters and Allied Trades for Children’s Hope and local women’s shelters and food pantries, and she’s been known to hit up her local politicians to encourage them to join her in bringing women and minorities deeper into the trades.
It was noted that she works well with the students, with ‘care and energy’ and even helps them with transportation to and from jobsites if necessary. 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. Her advice of keeping your head up and showing you belong - because you do - is good for anyone.