The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor: The Life and Times of Tony Mazzocchi

Les Leopold, Author
Les Leopold, Author . Chelsea Green $24.95 (525p) ISBN 978-1-9333-9263-9
Reviewed on: 10/01/2007
Release date: 11/01/2007

A formidable labor organizer and longtime leader of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union, Mazzocchi (1926–2002), had an exceptional career that belies much received wisdom about American labor after WWII. In prose that unabashedly reflects the upbeat, streetwise worldview of its subject, Mazzocchi's friend and associate Leopold shows how Mazzocchi's earliest experiences—from a Bensonhurst childhood among a politically engaged Italian-American working-class family, to underage entry into WWII as an army grunt—informed his shrewd strategies for a militant labor agenda from the 1950s onward. That agenda embraced civil rights, anti–nuclear testing, antiwar and environmental causes, often years ahead of the liberal mainstream, while deftly negotiating such obstacles as employer antagonism, Cold War red-baiting, mob racketeering, union corruption and government intrigue. Balancing a wealth of firsthand interviews with astute judgments, Leopold delivers a vivid picture of Mazzocchi as a practical visionary whose milestones include passage of 1970's Occupational Safety and Health Act. Those undeterred by a sometimes earthy and partisan tone will find a wealth of practical lessons as well as an excellent introduction to American left and labor history. (Nov.)