‘Working in a man’s field’: Never Quit winner is Pennsylvania heavy equipment operator

By AFSCME Staff ·

Once upon a time, Michele Reich had an office job. But it wasn’t for her. 

So, she chose a career few other women consider: She became a heavy equipment operator for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. And she has never looked back. In October, she’ll celebrate 20 years with PennDOT. 

“Each piece of machinery is different,” says Reich, who works in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. “At first I’m usually pretty nervous about it, but I’m a woman working in a man’s field, and I like the fact that I can do what they do, sometimes not as good but sometimes I can do it even better.” 

She has certainly earned the respect of her colleagues. 

“Michele is a hard worker,” says Gary Moyer, a co-worker. “She is very knowledgeable in her job. … She takes a lot of pride in her work, and she wants to do the right thing for the public.” 

Reich is part of a crew responsible for paving roads. 

“When it is over, it’s nice to be able to drive on it and realize that myself and the rest of the crew, that is what we accomplished,” she says. 

For her service to her community, Reich, a member of AFSCME Local 2151 (Council 13), is a winner of our union’s Never Quit Service Award, which seeks to recognize public service workers who go above and beyond the call of duty to make their communities better.