Sharniece Lewis has become the first woman at IBEW Local Union 53 to complete the Traffic Signal/Street Light Technician Apprenticeship program. Lewis entered the program in October of 2017, where she worked as a groundsman for the first six months before getting into the apprenticeship program with Missouri Valley JATC. She just topped out on December 21st, 2021 and is now a Traffic/Street Light Technician employed by Capital Electric Linebuilders. She passed with a 98%.
Lewis is from Warrensburg, Missouri and comes from a large military family. She has five older brothers and a twin sister. She says that her family always knew that she would be something different, and that they are so excited and proud of her. Lewis turned down the opportunity to play pro-ball after attending Highland Community College and Missouri Western State University where she received her Bachelors in Sports Management.
“It has been all welcoming arms and very comfortable. I am used to being the only female and minority in spaces that I am in, but I never look at it that way. There aren’t many black people in the field, let alone black women. We just keep it family oriented. I go in with a new mindset every day and just work to get everything accomplished. I’ve never been treated differently because I am a girl at the union,” said Sharniece. “Being part of the labor movement is one of the best things to happen to me. Many people our age don’t focus enough on retirement and benefits, but for me that’s a huge focus. It’s my future. The retirement and wages are great in this work! I wasn’t going to get half of what I get now with my bachelors degree.”
Eric Williams, the Business Manager and Financial Secretary for IBEW 53, has overseen many firsts for women at Local 53. His support for women in the trades continues to strengthen the union.Published