UIW National Director Spadaro Dies at 78


August 2016


Back to Issue

Iconic Official Served Union with Unsurpassed Dedication


John Spadaro’s work ethic was legendary. The Philadelphia native, who spent 56 years with the SIU-affiliated United Industrial Workers (UIW), normally was the first one to arrive on the job and the last to leave – always maintaining a positive attitude throughout. He had a staggering knowledge of UIW contracts as well as the individual circumstances of members in his shops.


But even that unusually strong level of commitment paled to the man’s decency, said many of those who knew him. Fellow union officials and members recently remembered him as someone whose integrity was beyond reproach and whose kindness was constantly evident.


Spadaro, 78, passed away July 11 at his home in Sewell, New Jersey, following a battle with cancer. He served as UIW national director since 2001; his association with the union also included 24 years as a rank-and-file member.


“John was one of the most dedicated union officials I ever worked with,” said SIU President Michael Sacco, who also is president of the UIW. “He served the members’ needs with 100 percent of his time and efforts and yet he was a good family man, too. He was really a loyal soldier and a good union man.”


Like Sacco, SIU/UIW Secretary-Treasurer David Heindel worked with Spadaro for decades (36 years in Heindel’s case).


“John was a special guy,” Heindel recalled. “He was dedicated and loyal and always had the members’ interests at heart. He’d arrive at work at 6 a.m. every day and he was the last one out at the end of the day. There’s never going to be another guy like John.”


Tiffany Blake is a UIW member who has served as chief shop steward at SIU/UIW headquarters in Camp Springs, Maryland, for the last 12 years.


“I will always have the highest level of respect for John,” she said. “John was a man of integrity and strong work ethic, and he had a heart of gold. He always went above and beyond for the benefit of our membership. John was always encouraging and willing to teach many valuable lessons; he was my mentor, and will be deeply missed by all he came in contact with.”

After receiving an honorable discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps, Spadaro found work at UIW-contracted Hussman Refrigeration (later renamed Victory Refrigeration) in 1960. The suburban Philadelphia shop, which manufactured industrial-grade products, proved to be a good fit right from the start, and Spadaro quickly got involved in the union.


He became shop steward in the early 1960s and then was elected chief shop steward in 1968. A decade later, John Fay – then a regional official, later the union’s secretary- treasurer before he passed away in 2005 – asked Spadaro to coordinate the shop’s medical claims with the UIW’s Philadelphia hall. Eventually, it would prove to be a springboard to Spadaro’s service as an official, which began as a business agent in late 1984.


In 1987, Spadaro was appointed assistant vice president of the union’s Atlantic region. He was elected to that same slot two years later, and then was elected as the area vice president in 1993. Following his reelection in 1997, Spadaro in 2001 was elected national director. He was reelected to that post three times, most recently at the UIW convention in 2013.


Colleagues took his passing quite hard, but many still managed smiles when recalling Spadaro’s fondness for family and outside interests, especially sports, old movies and music. He enjoyed talking about his appearance as part of the dancing crowd on American Bandstand, a popular television music show that ran from the 1950s to the late 1980s.


Spadaro is survived by his wife of 54 years, Carmella; their two children; three grandkids; and four brothers. A memorial service took place July 15 in Mantua, New Jersey, followed by interment in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Chews Landing, New Jersey.



Share |