Joseph Pagano, 81, a tool and die maker, long-time leader of
UE District One and former member of the union’s General Executive Board,
died Jan. 18.
The son of Italian immigrants, Pagano grew up in New York’s
"Hell’s Kitchen" in the 1920s and 1930s. Pagano left school in the
ninth grade, but as son Nick recalls, he "was remarkably intelligent,
extremely well-read and self-educated." As a young man, Pagano came to
Philadelphia looking for work. A South Philadelphia carpenter took him home
for dinner; Pagano fell in love and married the carpenter’s sister, Carmella
From 1942 until 1967, he worked as a tool and die maker for
Atlantic Manufacturing where he became active in Tool and Die Local 155. His
fellow workers quickly recognized his leadership abilities and elected him
shop chairman, a position he held until his election to business
representative in 1962. He was elected business representative in each
succeeding election until his retirement on May 1, 1984.
The tool and die maker attended his first UE Convention in
1958, and was a convention regular for most of the next 30 years.
Pagano elected secretary-treasurer of District One in October
1971 and was re-elected each year, serving in that position through the
district convention of October 1984. As district secretary-treasurer, he was a
member of the union’s General Executive Board.
The business agent readily made himself available to assist
the union in special situations, including the servicing of shops other than
those in amalgamated Local 155, and working with staff on new organization.
Over the years he provided leadership by training and developing newly hired
staff assigned to District One. Many UE members, whose wages, hours and
working conditions are above average, benefited from Pagano’s contributions.
"His passion, besides family, was fighting for the
workingman, regardless of race, creed, color or religious belief," says
Nick Pagano. "He didn’t have a prejudiced or bigoted bone in his body
and that’s the way he raised his kids.
As the Philadelphia Daily News reported, the UE
business agent’s personality "could cross all generational, racial and
Survivors include son Nick, daughter Maria Giampetro, five
grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and a nephew, Frank Doto, whom Pagano and
his wife raised from the age of 7.