Barbara Yatauro was recently elected President of Local 393, representing approximately 350 members at Suffolk County Water on Long Island, New York.
For most of her 22-year career, she worked in the new construction division of the company and is now a Senior Clerk there. A few years after joining the union, she was elected Shop Steward. She held the treasurer position for 11 years before being elected president.
The Utility Worker caught up with her to hear her thoughts on leadership. “I learned early on in my career that, as a woman working in a traditionally male dominated field, it makes you work harder and smarter. I definitely have to be that much more knowledgeable about whatever it is I’m saying. And that goes for work related things; union related things, because I’m a woman.
“That means that when I give somebody an answer I’m confident that it’s the right answer. I think over time people have learned that they can be confident in what I tell them.
“I became active early on. My dad was a union member. He was CSEA [Civil Service Employees Association]. So I came from a union family. I firmly believe that you have to participate in whatever it is you are doing. You can’t just be a bystander.
“I encourage women to be more active within their union. Don’t be intimidated. Everything comes down to education and research. Learn as much as you can. Knowledge is power.
“Be confidant in who you are and work hard at it. I am passionate about helping people and having fair and equal rights for everybody regardless of who they are. If that is something you are passionate about, then the union is the place for you. That’s the place to really shine.
“When people see somebody who takes the time to get the right answers, who takes the time to hear them when they have a problem, I think that’s what people are looking for in a leader, regardless of if they are a man or a woman.”