Editor’s Note: LaborPress is proud to present the 2022 Outstanding Apprentice of the Year Awards for Long Island and New York City on Thursday, June 16, hosted by Teamsters Local 282 in Lake Success, NY. Today, we continue our ongoing series leading up to this year’s gala event introducing each of those fascinating and inspiring award-winners to the wider labor movement.
New York, NY – Plumbers Local Union No. 1 Apprentice Alyssa Pascion-Dikaitis exudes confidence. Originally from Montreal, Canada, then raised in the Bronx and Westchester, she now lives in Upstate New York. She is in her fifth year of a five-year apprentice program, leading to a career in a traditionally male-dominated industry. But Pascion-Dikaitis says, “There are some hard times, but I’m lucky and fortunate because I work for a really good shop, Cardoza plumbing. And every foreman, every journeyworker that I’ve met, they’ve shown me nothing but support, and they’re really good. Really gracious. They let me learn at my own pace. And they challenge me when I need to be challenged…it’s been a nice five years as an apprentice.”
At 31, Pascion-Dikaitis worked at other jobs before beginning her plumbing career, most notably as a nurse’s aide and an EMT. “I served as an EMT with Empress Ambulance of Yonkers, NY in 2016. We responded locally to emergency calls and provided patient transport all over Westchester, New York City and some surrounding counties. It was an awesome three years. I had the opportunity to work with some great people and save a few lives!” she says.
Pascion-Dikaitis received notice from the union in 2018, and actually worked both jobs for a year. “It was actually an inspiring transition — from transporting to and from hospitals — to being part of a company the helps build and enhance them.”
Now, however, she’s comfortably settled in her new profession. A neighbor, who was also a retired plumber, helped point the way. “He said, ‘You like to work, and you like to put things together. Why don’t you try it out?’ So, I stood on line with my brother and we waited there about two days, just for an application. And I got called back. It was really amazing!”
About the myriad of specialized skills she’s learned, Pascion-Dikaitis says, “Oh my gosh. There are so many. I’ve learned, obviously, how to rough in a bathroom, I’ve learned how to rough in a shower — the list goes on. I’ve actually gotten the opportunity with this shop that I’m with — they do mostly hospitals — so, I’ve gotten a chance to do a lot of acid waste projects [and] laboratories. That’s a different set of materials that we use, different media, different ways of joining pipe. I’ve gotten a chance to see a lot of that. And also in the healthcare setting, I’ve gotten to see how to pipe out a lot of medical gases.”
Pascion-Dikaitis says she was “shocked” when she learned she was chosen as a LaborPress Outstanding Apprentice of the Year awardee. “I am still letting that sink in. [The union said], ‘You’re gonna represent the Local,’ and I was just amazed. I was in disbelief. But I’m glad to have the opportunity. I’m always trying to listen to advice that I get from the older mechanics — my instructors who were mechanics and foremen in the past. I’ve had the opportunity to pick the brains of some of my instructors for guidance in the field and to inquire if there are better ways to accomplish a task. I was met with nothing but quality information. I just try to keep a level-head and listen and take in all the feedback that I can get.”
“Ms. Pascion-Dikaitis has worked diligently and in a focused manner in her apprenticeship studies,” says Arthur O. Klock, Jr., director of Trade Education. “The Plumbing trade requires significant knowledge of mathematics, college level scientific concepts, as well as numerous practical skill sets for the execution of the work. She represents a type of more mature apprentice we have seen in recent years who takes full advantage of the Union Apprenticeship opportunity. She knows exactly why she came here, and she knows exactly what she wants to accomplish.”
Pascion-Dikaitis’ passions outside of work are varied. “I like working on cars,” she says. “It’s usually a family thing. [Also] being outdoorsy, cooking, and gardening.”