“Leader,” “respect,” “heart” and “family” were all words used to describe longtime GE union leader Carmen DePoalo on Sunday.
Another word used by GE Vice President John Loomis was “volatile,” as he recalled many run-ins with the IUE-CWA LOCAL 301’s longtime business agent. Yet, he still had tremendous respect for DePoalo.
“At the end of the day, dealing with Carmen and all his bluster made me a better negotiator,” Loomis said at a dinner celebrating DePoalo’s retirement from GE held at the Glen Sanders Mansion.
Loomis said he took notice when DePoalo raised an issue. “If Carm was reaching out on a personal basis, there was something there to listen to,” he said.
DePoalo, 60, was credited with helping to make GE’s new $100 million battery plant a reality. He helped convince the union to ratify a plan in 2009 to lower labor costs so the company would bring the work to Schenectady.
“Standing in front of the membership talking about a wage cut, that has to be one of the hardest things a leader can do,” said Bob Santamoor, former business agent for Local 301 and currently chairman of the GE and Aerospace Conference Board.
Loomis also cited DePoalo’s accomplishments outside of GE, including serving as a football coach for Schenectady High School from 2007 to 2008, where he led the team to the Class A Liberty Division championship. He also led Scotia-Glenville from 2010 to 2011, served as varsity Mohonasen coach from 1983 to 1987 and was an assistant at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons from 1970 to 1972.
“This is a guy that believes in kids, the community and the future,” Loomis said.
The evening also contained a few shots at DePoalo’s expense.
“I’ve apparently wandered into the wrong event. All I’ve heard are good things about Carmen,” said Dennis Rocheleau, former chief negotiator for GE.
DePoalo admitted that sometimes his tactics were a bit overbearing. “I know sometimes I’m like a little baby.”
DePoalo said he could not take the sole credit for these accomplishments. “I’ve had a great team,” he said. “It’s been a great run.”
He called Local 301 “the best damn union around.”
“It was the members of 301 that brought the battery plant to Schenectady,” he said.
He singled out Helen Quirini, who headed the Local 301 Retiree Council until her death in 2010, and others.
“Those are the people — the reason we have a union,” he said.
DePoalo said he would continue to be active in local athletics during his retirement, including with Pop Warner. But mainly, he said, he would be spending time with his family, including his wife Paula.
“You’re my world,” he told her.
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: Schenectady County