While we believe every member contributes to our cause, there are those that go above and beyond the call. The Famous Members section highlights the two that we consider to have stood out in their commitment, and ultimately their sacrifices, to create a better world for us all.
Karen Gay Silkwood (1946 - 1974)
PACE International Union Mourns Loss of Labor Activist and Health & Safety Pioneer
Nashville, Tenn.—Working people lost one of their greatest champions of workplace and health and safety rights with the death of
Tony Mazzocchi, 76, of pancreatic cancer on October 5. Mazzocchi was a member of the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical & Energy
Workers (PACE) International Union and the former Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers Union (OCAW) for 52 years.
“Tony Mazzochi was one of the most dedicated trade unionists I have known,” said PACE International President Boyd Young. “There were few people in this world like Tony—he was true to his belief and a champion of whatever cause he chose to undertake. Some of his best work was in the area of agitating for national health care for every man, woman and child in the United States. To be sure, he was a trailblazer for national health care and for safe conditions in the workplace. Both causes will sorely miss Tony’s leadership, and the entire labor movement mourns his passing.”
Mazzocchi played a key role in the legislative struggles of the 1960s and 1970s, including passage of the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). A founder of the Labor Party, he continued organizing support for the party’s national health care program up until his death.
Known for his activism on health and safety issues, Mazzocchi worked with OCAW member Karen Silkwood, who blew the whistle on Kerr-McGee’s falsification of quality control data on nuclear fuel rods. Silkwood was killed mysteriously on her way to meet a New York Times reporter, and Mazzocchi continued the effort to make public the truth about her case.
Becoming an OCAW member in 1950 on May Day, Mazzocchi was elected to local and national positions within the union. As a local union president, he negotiated a number of firsts, including the first dental insurance program ever in private industry. He also served as an OCAW international executive board member, legislative director, health and safety director, vice president and secretary-treasurer. The OCAW merged with the United Paperworkers International Union to form PACE in January 1999. At the time of Mazzocchi’s retirement in 2001, he served as an assistant to the president of PACE.
“Tony influenced several generations of union members across the labor movement,” said Young. “He left a legacy that will be carried forward by PACE.”
Headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., PACE International Union represents over 320,000 workers in the paper, oil, chemical, atomic, pharmaceutical, corn milling, kaolin and auto parts industries.
For more information on Tony Mazzocchi, try wikipedia.