Hispanic woman mechanic breaks barriers


CHICAGO (CBS) — Hispanic Heritage Month continues and we’re honoring the accomplishments of an Oak Lawn mom.

She’s blazing the trail for Hispanic women in a field dominated by white men.

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Morning Insider Lauren Victory introduces us to this modern-day “Rosie The Riveter.”

Sparks are constantly flying and something is always broken on the 45 miles of belts at the massive UPS facility in Palatine.

Not to worry, mechanic apprentice Estella Garcia is on hand to fix problems.

Mechanic apprentice Estella Garcia and her crew.

“Check all the sprockets, the chains, the pulleys,” she said, listing some of her daily tasks.

The single mom of two started at UPS as a package handler. She worked during the day and went to mechanic school at night, using UPS education benefits. There was a lot of studying, training and a huge test.

“I used to like working on cars with my dad and stuff like that, but I didn’t know the proper terms to these items,” Garcia said. “If it was easy, everyone would be here.”

UPS hopes to recruit more unicorns like her. By some estimates, women make up only 24 percent of employees in the transportation sector; only about 4 percent of workers in the industry are specifically Hispanic females.

“If there are language barriers, we can definitely work with that,” said Chris Szwarc, answering our question about exactly how he’s trying to beef up the number of Hispanic women in his mechanic maintenance program.

“We have a recruiting team that goes out and solicits, and a lot of material is in different languages,” said Szwarc who serves as a UPS Facility Engineer.

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He added that at least some instructors are bilingual and that a lot of recruits to the program come via word of mouth among existing employees.

“Kind of what I associate with is a Tejena,” said Garcia who had a Frida Kahlo sticker on her helmet. “She was a really strong empowering woman and a lot of women look up to her.”

Maybe some will look up to Garcia now especially if you watch our CBS 2 video of her welding, grinding and fixing electrical issues.

“My mom’s like, ‘You should talk about it [her job]. That’s bada**.’ I don’t know if I can say that on TV,” Garcia said, laughing.

She is happy to create a buzz about hot opportunities especially if it opens the door to other women like her.

People interested in heavy-duty, hands-on work can join the mechanic maintenance program with no experience but are most often UPS employees promoted from within. We mentioned Garcia started as a package handler.

UPS is currently on the hunt for thousands of package handlers at facilities across the Chicago area. Many of those positions are seasonal through January 2022.

Here is more from UPS:

In Chicago UPS is hiring for:

· package car drivers

· tractor-trailer drivers

· package handlers

· personal vehicle drivers

Local UPS facilities hiring seasonal workers include:

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· Palatine – 2100 N. Hicks Rd, Palatine IL.

· Northbrook – 2525 Shermer Rd, Northbrook IL

· Franklin Park – 2301 Rose Street, Franklin Park IL

· Addison – 100 S. Lombard, Addison IL

· Jefferson Street – 1400 S. Jefferson Street, Chicago IL

· Bedford Park – 6700 W. 73rd Street, Bedford Park IL

· Lockport – 16328 John Lane Crossing, Lockport IL

· Harvey – 16701 Center Street, Harvey IL

· Chicago Area Consolidation Hub – 1 UPS Way Hodgkins, IL 606525