Joseph Martucci Jr. was honored as Man of the Year by the Italian American Police Association on Nov. 7 at Alta Villa Banquets in Addison. Frank DiMaria, second vice president of the FOP Lodge 7, was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the event. (708-268-1495)
“As a lifelong union organizer, Joe has had a significant positive impact on the quality of life of countless law enforcement officers and other union members throughout the Midwest,” says IAPA President Phil Tenerelli.
Joe was born in Chicago and grew up in the Austin District on the city’s Far West Side. The son of Joseph Sr. and Jean Martucci, he has fond memories of the Martucci Brothers butcher shop that his father and uncles ran on Taylor Street near Western Avenue.
After having attended St. Angela Grammar School and St. Mel High School, he graduated from Austin High School, attended Wright Junior College and the University of Illinois at Navy Pier, and received a diploma in labor from Roosevelt University and a diploma in acting from the Act 1 Academy of Theatrical and Performing Arts.
Joe began union life as an organizer in 1965 and served in that capacity throughout his long and productive career, retiring in 2006.
He spent his first seven years as an organizer and business agent for the Chicago and Central States Joint Board of the AFL-CIO. He was affiliated during that period with Wine Distillery Union Local 44; Plastic Workers Union Local 18; Metal Workers’ Union Local 16; Sheet Metal Workers’ Union Local 73; and the Laborers’ International Industrial Division Local 8: AFL-CIO, for which he also served as vice president.
From there, he moved on to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, serving as an organizer and business agent for Local 714, as well as its president in 1996. He also served as a political liaison with the Chicago Federation of Labor.
His main mission throughout his career was to organize the labor forces of non-union companies and then negotiate contracts with those companies. During a particularly busy one-year stretch, he flew out of Chicago 52 times to destinations throughout the central region. Throughout his career, he organized more than 10,000 workers.
“Unions are so important in terms of enhancing wages, benefits and working conditions,” Joe explains. “I’m proud to have played a part in improving the quality of life of the average worker.”
Joe is particularly proud of his involvement in the statewide campaign to convince the Illinois Legislature to pass the Collective Bargaining Rights Law. After the passage of the law, the Teamsters organized Cook County Court Deputies and Cook County Sheriff Deputies and other suburban police and fire departments, while other unions organized countless city and suburban police, fire and public works departments throughout the state.
During his tenure, Teamsters 714 also organized pharmacists and chauffeurs; industrial plant, warehouse and scrapyard workers; employees at McCormick Place, Chicago Amphitheater and Rosemont Exposition Center; and professionals in the movie and trade show industries.
In 1966, Joe was one of the founding fathers of the Italian American Labor Council, which consists of leaders from throughout the Chicago area and the state of Illinois. He has been a lifetime member of the organization since its inception, serving as president for a three-year term, and currently holding the title of president emeritus.
Among the many highlights of his involvement in the IALC, Joe is proudest of the fact that both Joseph Cardinal Bernardin and Francis Cardinal George agreed to be honored as Man of the Year at his invitation.
Joe has four children by his beloved wife, Jilda, who passed away 27 years ago from cancer. He mourns her passing to this day, and is grateful for the love he shares with his fiancée, Renee; his children and their spouses, Joe III (Maria), Ross, Rob (Cheryl) and Jill (Pete); and his grandchildren, Joe IV, Angelo, Viviana, Ava, Marco and Luca.
Joe is proud of the fact that all of his sons joined him among the ranks of organized labor. All three boys worked in the trade show and motion picture divisions of Teamsters Local 714 in high school and college, and they remain members today.
Joe dusted off his acting diploma a decade ago, playing an alderman in the TV series “Boss” with Kelsey Grammar, serving as a featured extra in the movies “Witless Protection” with Joe Mantegna and “Contagion” with Matt Damon; and assisting behind the scenes in several movies and television series.