Entrevistas

Carmen Principato & Tony Do Vale

100 YEARS OF JUSTICE, HONOUR AND STRENGTH

On November 14, 1919 a group of Labourers founded Local 506 under the banner of the Hod Carriers’ Building and Common Laborers’ Union. Samuel Tiller Garland was elected as first President. John York became Vice president; Edward Anthony, Recording Secretary; Fred Pipe, Financial Secretary; Edward Picton, Correspondence Secretary; Albert Whitley, Treasurer; Thomas Skinner, Sergeant at Arms and James Parrott, Guard. They were all of Scottish and Irish descent.

Their mandate was to organize the unorganized. In those years’, workers worked in conditions that were less than safe and for wages less than fair. Since the beginning, the new Executive Board of Local 506 recognized the compelling need for these underpaid and overworked individuals to band together in Strength and Unity.

The 1920s roared along, fueled by a mining boom that saw Bay Street turned into a veritable gold-rush alley, where everyone was pushing something hot. The Great Depression followed, inflicting 30% unemployment in 1933. The only distraction from its bleakness was the opening of the Maple Leaf Gardens in 1931, one, of the first big projects involving LiUNA Local 506’s members.
Following World War II, organized labour experienced a rebirth and membership grew. Construction jobs were plentiful, and unionized Labourers began to see their wages increase and their standards of living improved. The demand for new housing, schools, hospitals and churches created a boom for the Labourers.

In the 1950s and 60s, new immigrants arrived from Italy and in the 1960s and 70s, an influx of immigrants from Portugal changed the ethnic composition of Local 506. In the 1980s and 90s new immigrants from Poland, Africa and South America joined the multicultural ranks of our Union. It can proudly be said, that Local 506, is now ONE of the most multicultural Unions in North America.
Gone but not forgotten, are the first generations of members from Ireland and Scotland who were the pioneers of the Local.

LiUNA Local 506 had its’ dark days, when a revolt erupted from inside in the mid 80s and forced the Local under trusteeship. The members were able to regain control of the Local in 1986, by electing Carmen Principato’s team. The promise of Principato, who has been Business Manager since, was clear: “We’ll make this Local Union stronger than ever.”

While keeping an eye on the future, Local 506 has not forgotten the past. Since 1989, we have created a Recreation Centre for our Retired Members who gave a lifetime of hard work and loyalty to our great Local Union. As well, LiUNA Local 506’s commitment to providing formal education led to the creation of a Training Centre. Many improvements have also been made to the health and safety standards, wages, benefits and pension.

Among Local 506’s accomplishments, Carmen is responsible for establishing a Scholarship Awards Program for the Sons and Daughters of our Members to support working families pursuing post-secondary education and has provided more than four hundred thousand dollars to help fulfill the educational dreams of students.

In 1992, an annual charity bocce ball tournament was created. In 1998, it was renamed to the Nick Barbieri Annual Charity Bocce Ball Tournament, in memory of the late Nick Barbieri who held the position of Secretary-Treasurer of Local 506. All proceeds raised are donated to various charities. Since the inception, we have donated over one million dollars supporting critical needs. The goal is to make each village feel like a community, and each home feel like a family.

From about 140 founding members, LIUNA Local 506 has extended to its’ current membership of more than 8,000. More mergers and organizing have brought other sectors, from exhibit and display to hospitality and waste management into the LIUNA Local 506’s family. We will continue to organize and diversify in order to establish more opportunities for our members and increase financial stability for our Local.

Carmen’s commitment and outstanding service has improved the work environment and the lives of working families. He is a man who has earned respect and honour through his determination and loyalty he has given to LIUNA, the Members of Local 506 and the community at-large. For this we commend him!

100 years later, as LIUNA Local 506 continues to grow, the challenge is to ensure that its’ members will always have a Union that is strong and proud. The Executive Board of Local 506 will continue to carry on this proud tradition for decades to come! It’s a big accomplishment for the working class, for a Union to be around 100 years and still striving.
We consider ourselves grateful to be a member of one of the greatest Unions on earth. We will proudly continue to carry out the responsibilities entrusted to us and we look forward to continuing to stand together and build a stronger LiUNA!

Feel the Power!

Carmen Principato

Revista Amar: Who is Carmen Principato?
Carmen Principato: I was born in Calabria, a region south of Rome, but when I was 9 years old, my family moved to Rome where we lived till 1958. I remember I didn’t wanted to come to Canada, my family forced me… Let me tell you how it happened. I applied for a job in a Post Office in Rome and I was waiting for their call to tell me when I was going to start, but that call wasn’t coming. So I went there and I asked them why they wouldn’t call me… the lady looked my file and tells me “oh, yes… your father came here and told us not to call you, because you are leaving to Canada!” I went home and I told my father “I lost my job but I´m still not going to Canada!”… But I came with my family thinking I would go back in a few years. I´m married since 1962 and have one daughter, Sabrina, and one granddaughter, Mia… and Mia is my joy and my life!

RA: How old were you and what was your first job when you arrived in Canada?
CP: I was 21 when I arrived to Canada on November 16, 1958. I started to work in a precast company that was with Local 506 and I was payed $1,28/hour. I stayed in this company around 10 years.

RA: When did you got more involved with Local 506 and what was the position?
CP: In November 1971, I became an Executive Board Member as an Organizer and I kept that position till 1985. After that, the Local put me under Trusteeship.

RA: In what year did you run for the first time for Business Manager?
CP: In 1986 and I was elected.

RA: Did you run and win every time since then?
CP: Yes, I have run every 4 years and in 2 election I won by acclamation. I´m proud to be the leader of this organization for the last 34 years, but I haven´t and I can´t do it by myself. I need people like Tony Do Vale, our Secretary Treasurer, and every one of our Executive Board… I need the President, Roly Bernardini… I need everybody to work as a team to protect the jurisdiction of this Local and to do the best for all entire membership. To our retirees a special thanks, this Board wouldn’t be here today without them and if we are, is for sure because we have being doing the right thinks.

RA: When you won your first election, how many members did Local 506 have?
CP: We had 3,000 member at that time. Today we are around 8,000.

RA: In your opinion, why was that?
CP: Because there was no work… but in 1999, at Lawrence and Bathurst, we initiated about 150 new labors in one day. Two years later, again we were out of work for 8 months, we didn’t dispatch one single worker… it was a very bad situation. Since then, this is recurrent every few years.

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RA: How is the situation today?
CP: I can say, that for the last 3 years we are fortunate that we have lots of work, and this will continue for the next 4 to 5 years… which is good for our members and their families.

RA: What represents Tony Do Vale?
CP: Tony is mine second in command. As Secretary Treasurer he has done a great job… I have known him for over 30 years and he always has supported me.

RA: Are there any story that you can share with us that reflect these 30 years of friendship?
CP: There are… for example in the election of 1990 Tony´s father, Adriano, that was living again in Portugal came to help… he knew many of the members and he wanted to make sure they would do right thing by reelecting me. On the Election Day, after I won, Adriano hugged and congratulated me and said “take care of my son”… and I´m taking care of Tony since then.

RA: What kind of support gives Central and Eastern Canada of the Laborers’ International Union of North America to Local 506?
CP: We are very fortunate to have Joseph Mancinelli as our International Vice President and Regional Manager for Central and Eastern Canada of the Laborers’ International Union of North America and chair of our Pension Fund and which I´m vice chair… and we have the best Pension Fund in North America! A leader like Joseph Mancinelli we can´t dispute… there only would be any involvement if we would have a problem but we haven´t had, because our Executive Board is very responsible and has maintained this organization straightforward… that’s why we are where we are today.

RA: Local 506 helds the Family Picnic, the Bocce Tournament and the Steward Seminar and gives Scholarships every year. How important are these events?
CP: Each of this events are very important for different reasons… the Family Picnic is to gather our members and their families and spend a nice day together; the Bocce Tournament is to fundraise money to disability charities, the Steward Seminar is to make them understand what a stewards position is, make them aware about what is going on, on the worksite, and make them look after our jurisdiction; the Scholarship is to help the daughters and sons of our members pursuing their dreams. We also have an appreciation day for the contractors, here in our office, so they know what we do… we need to be closer to the contractors and they have to be closer to the union.

RA: The Grand Opening of the new Training Centre is going to happen soon. What represents this Training Centre for Local 506 future?
CP: For us the Training Centre is for many reasons “second to none”. Our members require lots of training to do better work and to have a better future… we need to give trainings and educate our members so they can accomplish that, and on the worksite the safety of our members is very important for us.

RA: What was the investment in this Training Centre?
CP: Roughly 23 million dollars… and it’s worth it, because we invested in the best there is for our members… their safety, lives and future are priceless!

RA: This month we are celebrating Local 506 100th. Anniversary. What does this mean to you?
CP: For me means that if it wasn’t for our retirees and members we wouldn’t have reached this achievement!

Tony Do Vale

Revista Amar: When and with whom did you came to Canada?
Tony Do Vale: I arrived in August 5, 1965… with my parents, Adriano and Alzira and my siblings… two brothers, Manny and Arthur, and one sister Maria.

RA: Do you remember why your parents decided to immigrate?
TDV: Yes, my parents came on a call of my uncle Manuel, which lived in Starthroy. My father started to work in tobacco farms, but back home he was working in farms and he was like “I didn’t left Portugal to come here to work in a farm.” So, after 6 months we moved to Toronto.

RA: How was it to adjust in Toronto?
TDV: First it was very, very hard to find a place to live with 4 kids. We couldn´t find and nobody would rent an apartment or a house to a family with 4 children. What happened? My brother and I ended up going back to Portugal for a year, in the meantime my father bought a house and we came back. He was doing very good working in construction and as a union member.

RA: How did it happened that you started in construction?
TDV: Well, I went to school of course and after that I started do work part-time in construction with my father… and I ended up after all going on construction myself… the money was good! I worked for Avenue for a while then I left, because I didn’t see any future there… from there I went to the SkyDome as a Steward.

RA: Tell us a little about Tony Do Vale.
TDV: I´m a father to two kids, Diana and Anthony… and soon to be grandfather to my daughter´s baby.

RA: When did you got involved with Local 506?
TDV: In 1986, when Carmen Principato was having his first election and we kicked the bad guy out.

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RA: Why did you wanted to get involved?
TDV: All started when I started to go to the meetings and I was active and talkative… and back in the 1986 election, there were a few groups, even Portuguese, but nobody wanted to take on the position of Business Manager… and the only one with the courage was Carmen Principato and as soon he won, the Portuguese regretted their decision. So on the next election, in 1990, the Portuguese and the Italians stood up, but why when we already had a great Business Manager? Right?

RA: That was the year that your father came, right?
TDV: Yes and he came voluntarily, because he knew Carmen very well and supported him in the 1986 election. So when I got on board he was even happier… but my father didn’t came alone, he came with my uncles, my cousins that used to work in the construction before they went back.

RA: Since when are you a member of the Executive Board?
TDV: Since 1989… so I´m here for 30 years.

RA: And besides being Secretary Treasurer, you take care of the Portuguese community, right?
TDV: Well, Carmen asked me to take care of the Portuguese community and it’s what I have being doing. I have being helping the clubs, some organizations… we try to help as much we can. People think that when they ask me for something it will happen, but no, I still have to bring everything to the Executive Board to be approved. Usually when I take a commitment I have the support of the Executive Board.

RA: How is it to work with Carmen Principato?
TDV: It’s great and he is a great Business Manager too!!! We had a few elections together even the biggest election since I started, in 2002. Carmen is loved by the members and very respected in the LiUNA… I think that speaks for itself.

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