ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Bruce Popper, a national labor leader and the retired vice president of 1199SEIU, passed away last Wednesday at 71 years old.

Popper was survived by his wife Barbara and his daughter Katherine Dee Popper. 1199SEIU announced a memorial will take place for Popper at the Memorial Art Gallery on Sunday, December 11. Those attending are asked to wear a union shirt or clothing featuring Frederick Douglass.

Popper, a Buffalo native, began his career as a union member who processed grievances and negotiated contracts at the University of Rochester.

In 1978, he was hired as an organizer and then rose up the ranks to serve as president, according to 1199SEIU officials.

Popper later served as the area vice president for hospitals in Rochester, Buffalo, and Corning, helped win contracts for Kaleida Health and Strong Hospital workers, and led strikes at Anthony Jordan Health Center to secure fair contracts.

Popper also served on the 1199SEIU’s Executive Council, sat on many Rochester boards, participated in community organizations, and steered committees focusing on social and economic justice.

Popper retired as the vice president of 1199SEIU in 2019 and received the key to the city after 45 years of service in the labor movement.

“Bruce was an icon in the labor movement and will never be forgotten, said 1199SEIU Outreach Coordinator Zola Brown.  “Bruce was and will remain the conscious of working people’s power.”

Bruce Popper is survived by his wife Barbara Popper and his daughter Katherine Dee Popper.