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Joe Pagano Dies;
Retired Leader
Of Local 155, District One


Joe Pagano at a 1975 GEB meeting
Joe Pagano at a 1975
 GEB meeting.

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 Doto.

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 cultural boundaries."

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.

UE News - 02/00

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