IUPAT DC7’s Joel Allen is recognized as Educator of the Year
By: Melanie Mager
Joel Allen began his apprenticeship with the Glaziers union over 30 years ago, and has dedicated his career to teaching the trade to others ever since. Under his tenure, the Milwaukee skyline has changed dramatically, with his work and supervision on many notable projects, including Miller Park, Mitchell International Airport parking structures, Miller Brewery Offices, Milwaukee Public Museum, and the Mayfair Mall redesign.
Allen’s desire to begin teaching apprenticeship classes stemmed from his admiration and gratitude to the Glaziers’ union. “Being a part of this union has done so much for me, my family, and my career, that I really wanted to be able to give something back in a meaningful way,” he said. In 1995, while still working full time as a Glazier, he went to his Business Agent at the Glaziers with some ideas for ways to improve the apprenticeship training classes, and has really been teaching them ever since. One of the major improvements that Allen made to the program was implementing significantly more hands on training opportunities for apprentices, something that he says is essential to any trade, and continues to ensure that the union construction industry provides a higher standard of excellence in all the work that they do. “A Glazier’s work has a direct impact on the performance of the building– it’s important that we emphasize a higher level of training on the front end of our workers’ careers to prevent issues like that.”
Allen continued to teach apprenticeship classes while working full time in the field, taking days off to teach. Eventually in 2004, he began working directly for the union as Business Representative. In his role as Business Representative for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, District Council No. 7, Allen has worked tirelessly to bring work for glaziers to Milwaukee, while continuing to teach apprenticeship classes. He was a key player in negotiating the classification for the shop work required by Benson Industries Inc. to assemble aluminum and glass curtain walls for Northwestern Mutual’s downtown office tower project. This classification is essential in helping City of Milwaukee workers gain employment and ideally a career pathway in the union construction industry, all while meeting the RPP requirements on the project.
He has volunteered his time at workforce development focused nonprofit WRTP/BIG STEP, speaking to candidates about opportunities in all the trades, and what a great career the union construction industry can provide. Allen is also currently helping to develop an apprenticeship readiness class for his trade, so that there is a more skilled pipeline for the future workforce as he prepares to retire next year. With so many exciting and large scale projects coming to Milwaukee, we can all be thankful there are people like Joel Allen dedicated to educating and training our construction workers to meet the challenges of the coming years.