February 12, 1993
LABORERS' PRESIDENT ANGELO FOSCO DIES
DATELINE: MIAMI, Feb. 12
Angelo Fosco, general president of the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA), died yesterday in Hollywood, Fla., after a brief illness. He was 71.
Fosco had served as LIUNA's top officer since his election on Oct. 30, 1975.
His low-key, quiet and unassuming demeanor belied his 17 plus-year record as one of the labor movement's boldest and most innovative leaders, achieving impressive results in expanding his union's base and improving the quality and quantity of services that it provides to its 600,000 members.
Friends and colleagues across the country mourned Fosco's loss. In a letter of condolence, AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland paid tribute to Fosco's long service to the executive council and the innovations in his union in the field of occupational safety and disease.
The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, founder and president of the National Rainbow Coalition, Inc., said: "Angelo Fosco dedicated his life to improving the quality of life for the working poor -- and all working people. It can be said of Angelo that for the common laborer, he stood his ground and did not flinch in the face of a challenge. His achievements for laborers in the areas of literacy, job training, health and safety, and workers' rights are second to none. He will be sorely missed."
Former Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall remarked: "Angelo Fosco was a good friend. He was an effective labor leader with good judgment who served his people well."
And William H. Wynn, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), called Fosco, "A warm, caring, compassionate man, whose commitment to his members and his cause was unparalleled. He was a longtime, close friend -- his passing is a deep loss not only for me but for the entire labor movement."
One of Fosco's most notable contributions to LIUNA was in foreseeing the economic changes that swept the country through the '80s and '90s. While LIUNA has historically been concentrated in the construction industry, Fosco moved aggressively to organize emerging sectors that were experiencing rapid growth.
As a result, he greatly diversified his union's membership as LIUNA organized public employees, and workers in the service, industrial and hazardous waste clean-up industries. This enabled LIUNA to prosper and grow at a time when the memberships of most other unions waned.
With construction one of the most dangerous professions in which to work, Fosco built a model, nationally recognized program to enhance working conditions, LIUNA's National Health and Safety Fund. The Fund also lobbies to strengthen mandates of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and assists members who suffer job related injuries or illnesses.
In addition, Fosco launched and served as chairman of the Irving J. Selikoff Foundation for Workers and Environmental Health to generate continued advances in this vital area.
Fosco was also an innovator in fostering labor-management cooperation, particularly in the area of worker training.
The Laborers-Associated General Contractors (AGC) Education and Training Fund conducts some of the nation's most advanced, award-winning training programs in the areas of hazardous waste removal, asbestos removal and lead abatement. It also ensures that construction laborers belonging to LIUNA are the most productive and skilled in the industry.
In addition, Fosco founded the Laborers'-Employers' Cooperation and Education Trust to facilitate greater collaboration between labor, management and government in advancing the U.S. construction industry, and improving productivity and working conditions, a goal that is
at the top of new Labor Secretary Robert Reich's agenda.
Fosco was born on Aug. 27, 1921, in Chicago. He attended Morgan Park Military Academy and Loyola University, and began his union career with the Laborers' Sewer and Tunnel Miners Local Union 2. His leadership and tenacity quickly became evident, and under his stewardship, LIUNA organized the Cook County Highway Department.
In 1949, he represented LIUNA in negotiating the first National Pipe Line Agreement.
In 1951, Fosco became an international representative and was assigned to the Chicago Regional Office, headquarters for LIUNA's largest region, covering 10 states and two Canadian provinces.
Due to his managerial, political, organizing and negotiating acumen, Fosco became assistant regional manager in 1964. Four years later, he became manager of the region and was also elected a LIUNA vice president. He held this position until he assumed the presidency in 1975.
Throughout his life, Fosco was recognized by dozens of civic, social and cultural organizations for his benevolence and achievements.
He was honored in 1990 with a special award for his dedication to the cause of workers' health by the Fellow of the Collegium Ramazzini -- a prestigious international health and safety organization based in Italy. He was the
first labor leader ever so honored.
Fosco was also honored in 1977 as Chicago's Italian American Man of the Year. And he was lauded by labor leaders and the health community for his unflagging commitment to the Dollars Against Diabetes (D.A.D.) Campaign, raising millions of dollars to help find a cure for this dread disease.
A vice president of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, Fosco also served as a vice president of the AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Department, Public Employee Department, and Metal Trades Department. He was a trustee of the AFL-CIO's Housing Investment Trust as well as a member of the Union Labor Life Insurance Company's board of directors.
He served as co-chairman of many funds that directly benefit LIUNA members, including the Laborers' National Pension Fund, Laborers' National Health and Welfare Fund, Laborers'- Employers Cooperation and Education Trust, Laborers-AGC Education and Training Fund, and the Laborers' National Health and Safety Fund.
Fosco lived in Chicago. He is survived by his wife Marie; his three children, Peter, Paul and Marycarm; seven stepchildren; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
There will be a viewing from 3-9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15, and Tuesday, Feb. 16, at Salerno's Galewood Chapels, 1857 North Harlem, Chicago.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday, Feb. 17. at 9 a.m. at Salerno's Galewood Chapels, followed by Mass at St. Vincent Ferrer Church, 1530 Jackson, River Forest, Ill.
Interment will be at Resurrection Cemetery, 7200 South Archer Avenue, Justice, Ill.
There will be a Washington memorial service on Monday, March 8, at 10 a.m. at St. Matthews Cathedral, 1725 Rhode Island Avenue N.W., Washington.
In lieu of flowers or other remembrances, the family requests that donations be made to the Blueprint for Cure (which benefits the Diabetes Research Institute of the University of Miami), P.O. Box 33636, Washington, D.C. 20033.
CONTACT: Bruce Kozarsky, 202-223-8700, or Victor Kamber, 305-868-8304 or 305-865-7511 ext. 121, both for the Laborers' International Union of North America