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LIUNA Local 183
Testimonial: “Local 183, The Best!” – Mario Cirill...
Testimonial: “Local 183, The Best!” – Mario Cirillo
3/27/2013 5:52:59 PM

It was, indeed, a pleasure to have spoken to a Pioneer of north-American unions. A gentleman that was born on May the 7th, 1935 and that in 1955 joined the International Union, was with the Local 506 for five years and in 1961 joined Local 183.

But, let’s listen to Mario Cirillo, as he deserves your attention.

“It was on August 29th, 1955, as I can still prove it with a copy of the original document, that I became a member.” And he showed us the document.

“I am from Cosenza, in the south of Italy. I still remember the first Union Hall on Queen and University, a very small business hall. At that time it was Gerry Gallagher.”

“It all started with Local 506 and only after with Local 183, and we cannot forget this fact.

LIUNA Local 183 is the largest Construction Local Union in North America. Founded in 1952 by first member, Gerry Gallagher, LIUNA Local 183’s mandate was to insure the safety of workers toiling for the Provincial Hydro Commission. With little more than 200 members in their first year, LIUNA Local 183 has grown to now represent more than 40,000 construction workers and their families in the Greater Toronto Area. The members work in every aspect of the construction industry including; residential, sewer and watermain, road construction, bridge building, pipeline, railroads and utilities to name a few. Local 183 has helped make this strong province the vibrant and beautiful place that we all call home.

Toronto and by extension LIUNA Local 183 is more ethnically diverse now than ever before and much stronger for it. Like the Cultural Mosaic that Toronto has become internationally known for, LIUNA Local 183 gains strength from each new member from any ethnic community which allows us to grow in industries that are sometimes specific to one ethnic community. Specifically, the construction industry has traditionally relied heavily on immigrants for labour and LIUNA Local 183 has a long history of welcoming and protecting immigrant workers. With each new wave of immigration, the makeup of its membership has changed.

What do you remember of those days?

“We suffered a lot. The equipment was old, the job very hard and demanding, but we had to work to pay for our expenses.”

It was 57 years ago.

“My first pay was 80 cents/hour.”

“I asked for a raise and I was told that I was over paid and above the 60 cents/hour that the company normally paid.”

“In those days we were scared to lose our jobs. We did not know the language. We did not know the rules. We had to work.”

“Everything changed when we joined the Union. Then we felt safe.”

And when did you retire?

“In 1991.”

How many credits did you have?

“At that time I had 36 credits.”

“I also have a Gold Card, given to me by LIUNA when I reached 50 years.”

How did you feel about the recent changes on Local 183?

“Before it was not at all like now. Jack Oliveira had our help, and Jack is the best that could happen. Lots of things changed. We used to pay $109/month, now we pay $65/month and Jack says that soon it will be free. A big difference for the members.”

“As for the medical system, now the dental plan is much better, the medication that the government does not pay is covered. We don’t have to pay at the pharmacy. Big and better changes since Jack Oliveira took over.”

“As for the Pension, we cannot complain.”

We know that there are other unions stating that our pension is vulnerable, that it is weak. How do you feel about that?

“It is not true. I am present at every meeting. I never miss a meeting and know how strong Local 183 is. Nobody can say that they offer better that Local 183. It just is not true.”

For the last 18 months that Jack Oliveira has been responsible, the Local 183 grew more ten thousand members. How do you feel about this?

“Very happy. Jack Oliveira is the best for all members.”

What about your fellow retirees, how do they feel about all this?

“They are also with Jack. Everybody feels great.”

Do you think that even those that voted against Jack have now realized the difference and are now with Jack?

“Oh yes… No doubt. Jack is good for everybody, so we have to be good for him.”

What about another union trying to get members of Local 183?

“They can try, but they will not get anywhere. I am sure that all members of Local 183 know that they would not have the same benefits anywhere else.”

“Local 183 is the best Local in North-America. We have everything.”

“We can just see how the number of members of Local 183 increases, but nobody leaves.”

What can Local 183 do better for the retirees?

“We are happy. We have no complains. We have everything we need.”

You retired in 1991. Since then you have no complains?

“Before, with the previous management, yes. We had complains. But since Jack Oliveira and his team took over, no complains.”

What do you recall from the times of Tony Dionisio?

“He was OK, but if we asked any questions, there were no answers.”

In conclusion, you are now totally happy with Local 183?

“Absolutely!”

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