Bernie LaBelle, Region II Senior National Representative, Retires
Bernie LaBelle, the UWUA’s long time national representative for Region II, officially retired at the close of this year’s convention. Outgoing President Langford paid tribute to LaBelle while presenting him with a plaque for his years of service to utility workers everywhere.
“Bernie is a truly outstanding and amazing National staff member,” Langford said. “Being the dedicated and passionate union man that he is, I’m sure he will still be taking calls when one of his locals or members has a problem. But I understand they may have to pull him off the golf course to take those calls!”
Bernie started as a pipeline worker in 1970 and was hired by a water utility in May 1977 to direct crews in the maintenance construction department in Williamsport, PA.
At Local 407, he became steward in 1978, vice president in 1980, and president in the 90’s. In 1999 he organized his first local of 100 water workers in Williamsport.
From 1999 to 2005, Bernie was a part-time organizer and went full-time in April of 2005 as a national organizer. A few years later he became a national representative and then senior national representative.
Over the course of his career Bernie serviced over 40 locals in Region II.
Bernie is responsible for many organizing, collective bargaining, and arbitration victories over the course of his career to the benefit of thousands of UWUA members.
One of Bernie’s favorite battles took him out of Region II when he went to New York to support his Local 1-2 brothers and sisters who were locked out by Con Ed. Bernie spent a month there, morning, noon and night tirelessly picketing with members and doing anything and everything he could to help Local 1-2’s members find victory with a new contract.
Bernie has some advice: “You don’t have to be smarter than your opponent, you just have to outwork them. And you have to gain people’s trust to follow you.”