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Union Members
Mourn Tony Mazzocchi,
Labor Party Founder


Tony Mazzocchi (1926-2002)

Tony Mazzocchi, founder of the Labor Party and long-time leader of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union (now PACE); he died Oct. 5, 2002 of pancreatic cancer.

Mazzocchi was born in 1926 in Brooklyn, N.Y., and raised in a working-class neighborhood. His family lost their home due to the medical bills of his mother, who died when he was six. Mazzocchi dropped out of high school in the ninth grade.

Mazzocchi served as a combat soldier in three World War II campaigns. After the war, he worked as an auto worker, steelworker and in the construction trades, and eventually as a worker in a Long Island cosmetics factory. There he became president of his OCAW local union. Serving in that office from 1953 to 1965, he negotiated a number of firsts, including the first dental insurance program ever in private industry. Mazzocchi successfully amalgamated his local, conducted organizing, and negotiated with over 25 diversified corporations.

Mazzocchi emerged as a leader on occupational safety and health, developing alliances among workers, scientists and neighborhood residents concerned with environmental hazards. He became the OCAW’s legislative director in 1965. In that position, Mazzocchi took a leading role in the successful fight for passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970. He worked closely with Karen Silkwood, an Oklahoma atomic worker and active OCAW member, who died under mysterious circumstances in 1974 while on her way to meet with a reporter about safety hazards at her plant.


Elected OCAW Vice-President in 1977, Mazzocchi had responsibility for the union’s programs in health and safety, atomic energy, and organizing. From 1979 to 1981 he served as Health and Safety Director. After running for OCAW President in 1979 and 1981, losing by less than one percent each time, he returned in 1982 to rank-and-file activism as a member of his local union.

In 1988, Mazzocchi was elected OCAW Secretary-Treasurer and served in that office through 1991, when he chose not to seek re-election in order to devote himself to the creation of a labor party in the United States. That effort began with the formation of Labor Party Advocates, and led to the founding convention of the Labor Party in 1996. Mazzocchi served as Interim National Organizer of the party.

UE members worked closely with Mazzocchi in building and promoting the Labor Party, especially when the party’s first constitutional convention met in Pittsburgh in 1998. Mazzocchi spoke to UE Conventions in 1996 and 1998 and met with the union’s General Executive Board.

In remarks to UE’s 1998 convention, Mazzocchi declared, "There is a dawn approaching that is indicating and shouting to us that it’s our moment. But we’ve got to seize that moment and use what we know so well—how to organize and, fundamentally, how to fight! And that’s what the Labor Party is about."

Memorial donations may be sent to the Debs-Jones-Douglass Institute, 1532 16th St., Washington, D.C. 20009 or to the GW Cancer Center Fund, 2150 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Room 3-341, Washington, DC 20037.

UE News - 12/02

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