UWUA members go above and beyond their typical work duties all the time. We don’t always hear about it, but these kinds of instances can happen in big and small ways. At this year’s convention, UWUA will once again present the “Hero Award” to recognize a member or group of members who performed extraordinary actions.

A call for hero nominations went out earlier this year, and locals from throughout the country responded by sending in stories of members who had performed heroic acts. Some members gave back to their communities in extraordinary ways by working to raise awareness or funds for a charity and others took action to save a life.

The union’s executive board recently had the tough job of selecting a single Hero Award winner who will be named at the 32nd Constitutional Convention, but all nominees have remarkable stories that are worthy of our thanks and recognition. Their stories, shared here, are testaments to what makes UWUA members truly exceptional.

Anthony Russo, Jeremy Farney and John Velluci, Local 1-2

In early January, gas operating mechanics Jeremy Farney and John Vellucci found a fellow UWUA brother unconscious and unresponsive in a company vehicle at Con Edison’s Eastview Service Center. They immediately called 911 and safely removed him from the van. When they realized he wasn’t breathing and was turning purple, they started CPR, while Anthony Russo called inside the center and had the AED brought to the site.

Another call was made to the guard shack and internal notifications were made to allow first responders quick access to the yard. They continued CPR and administered the AED for roughly 20 minutes while they waited for the ambulance. However, when EMS arrived, they went to the wrong entrance, which was padlocked. Velluci, knowing that every minute counts, jumped into a backhoe and ripped the fence open to allow EMTs immediate access. The distressed employee was taken by ambulance to a hospital where he underwent heart surgery. The EMS staff credited these members’ quick response with saving their union brother’s life.

Patrick Colley, Local 254

While in the middle of taking his commercial driver’s license test this past January, Colley approached an intersection blocked by a car accident. When he saw that CPR was being performed — but incorrectly — he pulled over and sprang into action. Colley took over and was able to revive the individual just as paramedics and the fire department arrived.






Members of G-555 Western Shop

Rudy Berry

A group of G-555 members in Cleveland, Ohio, organize the annual “Rudy Barry Food Drive” to help feed families in need during the Christmas season. It’s named in honor of Rudy Barry, a 40-year Local G-555 member, who founded and ran the drive before he passed away a few years ago.








Jeffrey Kandler, Local 101, Zachary Ferguson and Hunter Corcoran, Local 105

Last August, the three gas construction workers found a customer in serious trouble, lying on his back in his backyard with a good-sized head wound. The customer was unresponsive and struggling to breathe. The members applied their first aid training, moving him into the recovery position, calling 911, and monitoring him until first responders arrived.



Eric Golbranson, Local 369

In July 2020, Golbranson, a 35-year veteran of National Grid and an electric line crew leader out of Quincy, Massachusetts, was driving his bucket truck when he saw a woman running toward a fountain. For a second, he thought she might be preparing to jump into the water, but he then noticed that just beyond the fountain a toddler was about to step into the street where an eighteen-wheeler was fast approaching.

In what he described as a “knee jerk reaction”, Golbranson swung his truck to block the intersection and pulled the emergency brake. With his truck barely at a standstill, Golbranson hit the ground running and snatched up the toddler. When the mother finally reached them, she fought through tears to express her heartfelt gratitude.

Golbranson, who is accustomed to driving a large vehicle, understood the challenges of limited visibility and stopping distance, which were later confirmed by the driver of the eighteen-wheeler, who had not seen the toddler. Golbranson’s hyper-awareness, quick-thinking and split-second reaction saved the child’s life.

Stacey Koon, Local 1-2

This third-generation Consolidated Edison (ConEd) employee is a senior customer service representative who spends her spare time as a “Sickle Cell Anemia Warrior,” advocating for those stricken with the disease that disproportionately impacts the Black community. Sickle Cell Anemia changes the shape of red blood cells which in turn hinders the normal flow of blood and oxygen through the bloodstream and causes blockages and excruciating pain. Koon was diagnosed with the disease at age 3.

Despite being told by doctors that she wouldn’t live past age 30, Koon just celebrated her 23rd year at ConEd.

Koon suffers frequent pain and periodic hospitalization but manages to meet the deadlines and the demands of her job. Outside of work, she is currently producing a docuseries about the disease.

Until a cure is found, Koon aims to spread a message of hope: “Just because you have this disease doesn’t mean it has to have you; you can still live your life to the fullest and do the things that make you happy.”

Paul Gessner, Local 107

Gessner was traveling east on 1-96 near Lake Michigan Drive in Grand Rapids to an on-call job on Christmas Day 2021. It’s a busy interchange due to its proximity to downtown, and the expressway winds back and forth as drivers enter and exit Lake Michigan Drive. As he passed the interchange, Gessner noticed a child on the side of the expressway. He pulled over, got the child to a safe spot, called 911 and stayed there until emergency personnel arrived.





Jacob Mietelka, Keenan Root, and Matthew Ziegler, Local 258

During a powerful ice and snowstorm in rural Michigan this past March, the three members were on the job repairing downed lines when they came upon a driver yelling for help next to a man who had been pulled out of his car and was lying on the street in distress.

Mietelka, a volunteer firefighter, and Ziegler immediately called 911, started administering CPR, and hooked the man up to the defibrillator they had in their truck, while Root grabbed coats, shirts and other supplies to keep the man dry. Several minutes passed before first responders and state police arrived to take over and treat the man, who was eventually able to sit up, breathe on his own, and go by ambulance to the hospital.

“It was a blur,” said Ziegler. “There were some intense minutes, as the man was in and out and his pulse was up and down.” Mietelka said the crew didn’t think twice about helping somebody facing a deadly situation.