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Bernard Callegari


Bernard Callegari is a proud 22-year member of New York City–based Laborers Local 79,  and presently serves as chief of staff for the 45,000-member Laborers International Union of North America, Eastern Region (LIUNA). In this position, Callegari manages and coordinates strategic organizing campaigns for the politically active building trades union. Previously, he served as director of organizing for the 17,000 member Mason Tenders District Council and also helped lead mobilization efforts for the Count Me In campaign against open shop development in New York City. He continues to play an instrumental role in the ongoing Laborers’ Fight Back campaign to address the rampant exploitation of immigrants and justice-affected laborers in construction.

For Callegari, organizing and supporting exploited and vulnerable workers is very much personal.  His childhood living in the Queensbridge public housing development was replete with poverty and struggle, and he quickly turned to the streets and drug use as a way of escaping his challenging situation. He was first adjudicated at the early age of eleven, was sent away for two years at the age of fifteen, and proceeded to go in and out of the criminal justice system for many years.

It was an invitation to join Laborers Local 79 back in 2001 that changed his life. Before that moment, to support his family, Callegari was working as a non-union laborer. It wasn’t until he joined the union that he came to fully realize the unsafe conditions he worked under and the unfair treatment he received from his employer.

Outside of the work in construction, Callegari was drawn to the issues of economic and social justice and the role unions could play in protecting workers, changing laws, and creating opportunity for people regardless of their background or past.  Callegari quickly rose through the ranks, first as a shop steward, volunteer organizer, and then full-time organizer for Local 79 covering Queens. As part of his work as organizer, Callegari built relationships with workers, contractors, community boards, social organizations, and anyone who cared about worker and human rights.

Bernard currently resides in Secaucus and has two children: a son, Bernard, Jr., and a daughter, Tiffany. Bernard lives a life beyond his wildest dreams and believes his purpose is to help at least one more person to achieve the same.

Bernard Callegari