H. T. (Terry) Herrick, 59, the labor relations director of the old Atomic Energy Commisson and then the Department of Energy before retiring in 1978 died of cancer Wednesday at Washington Hospital Center.

Mr. Herrick began his government career here with the National Labor Relations Board in 1950. He worked for the NLRB in Seattle from 1952 to 1957 before entering private industry in Pittsburgh.

He returned to Washington as a Labor Department official in 1961, then served as general counsel of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service for two years before becoming AEC labor relations director in 1966.

Since retiring from the government, he had been a member of the permanent arbitration boards of the U.S. Steel Company, the United Steelworkers of America, and the Iron Ore Industries.

Mr. Herrick, who lived in Washington, was a native of New York City. He attended Hamilton College and was a 1948 graduate of Cornell University's law school. He practiced law in New York before joining the government.

Survivors include his wife, Allison B., and a son, David ., both of Washington; a daughter, Christine T., of Salem, Ore., and a brother, Snowden T., of New York City.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the United Negro College Fund.