August 27, 2016
By Silver Krieger
New York, NY – Allen Wright, Director of Industry Advancement at the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 14-14B, has a long history of leadership at the union, and was just nominated for the Heroes of Labor Award. LaborPress spoke with him about his accomplishments, and what led up to the nomination.
“I started in 1993 in the Local 14 Apprenticeship Program, where I learned all about heavy equipment operation, and graduated in 1995,” he says. “I worked in all aspects of the construction industry – foundation, heavy construction, building construction, and bridge and highway repair, among others. At the same time I was an instructor at the training school, from 1996 until 2006.” He continued to work in the field, and started working as a Master Mechanic. In this capacity he was employed at the World Trade Center Hub Project, where he managed heavy equipment operations.
In 2013 he became Director of Industry Advancement. He says that important parts of his job include working with local and state politicians, and engaging in community outreach. “Finding new ways to increase Local 14’s footprint,” he says, “is key.” It is also one of his favorite parts of the job. “Making people aware of what we do, and letting people know that we are there for them,” gives him a great amount of satisfaction.
He himself comes from a union family, which adds to the good feeling of spreading the news. His mother is a member of the United Federation of Teachers, and his father is a member District Council of Carpenters Local 1536. Hailing from Brooklyn, he describes himself as an “inner-city” kid, and now finds ways to give back to young people from similar backgrounds. “For example,” he says, “a high-school kind, looking to get into a career. I let them know great things about the job, like the fact that you meet so many interesting people, and get to know all parts of the city. When you do construction, you get sent all over the place. There are so many things about this city I would never have known without this job. As a matter of fact, I just recently went back to my old high-school and spoke to the kids there about it.” When he tells teenagers about opportunities available to them, he sets an example, he adds. “When they see you in front of them, it has an impact unlike anything else. I tell them I went to college and the Apprenticeship Program at the same time. I also stress that I chose this career, that it isn’t a fallback profession, it’s something worth pursuing.”
Mr. Wright also participates in grassroots programs such as A Voteless People is a Hopeless People, Youth Step USA, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
He is nominated for the Heroes of Labor Award for all his work within I.U.O.E. Local 14-14B, and his efforts and leadership in expanding Local 14’s footprint throughout the industry and within communities throughout the City.
On the nomination, Mr. Wright says, “I don’t feel like I’ve done anything out of the ordinary. My uncle, when I was a kid, once said to me, ‘Here’s a jar with change in it. If you keep taking, without putting back, eventually there’ll be nothing there for you, or for anyone else.’ So I’ve kept that in mind. Just don’t be a taker.”