June 13, 2019

Honoring Tony Mazzocchi

Diane Stein, USW Tony Mazzocchi Center staff

Righteous indignation about societal ills without a plan for change is useless. A plan for change that doesn’t involve workers in determining and advocating for the future they need – their future – is doomed to fail.

These are lessons that guided my work for the past 30 years. I learned those lessons from Tony Mazzocchi and the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers (OCAW) union. In the mid-1980s I was fortunate enough to become a member of OCAW Local Union 8-149. Most people called it “Tony’s local” even though he had not been president for a while.

Tony had the ability to take complex and daunting issues, make them understandable and help you see a path forward to change. One particularly hot summer day in 1987 I was in the Local 8-149 office in Rahway, N.J., meeting with the local officers and Tony on a local issue I have long since forgotten. Midway through the day our district council president stopped by to say hello. He made an off-hand comment to the effect of, “Hot enough for you?” Tony then launched into a lengthy discussion about why summers are getting hotter and how global warming needs to be addressed. The following year he sponsored the first union conference on global warming.

That vision and that faith in all of us to work toward the future we deserve are what made Tony who he was. It’s our job to keep that vision and faith alive in the work that we do. So when you get discouraged, do what I do. Ask yourself WWTD [what would Tony do].

Posted In: Mazzocchi

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