ADDISON — “I don’t call Joe my friend. I don’t call him a union guy — I call him my fratello, which in Italian, means, ‘my brother.’”
Louis Cairo had those enduring words Oct. 3 for Joe Serpico, a through-and-through family man, union leader and recent recipient of the Italian American Labor Council (IALC) of Greater Chicago Man of the Year award.
Cairo, senior partner at Goldberg Weisman Cairo (GWC) has the honor of working with Serpico at GWC. Serpico is the law firm’s labor liaison. Cairo himself is a past recipient of the award an understands the significance of the award.
IALC President Anthony Guida presents Joe Serpico the Man of the Year award Oct. 3 in Addison. Guida said Serpico’s passion shows in everything he does. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer
Several colleges and friends of Joe Sepico, center, talked about his loyalty and dedication in his roles as in the IBEW organization, at Amalgamated Bank of Chicago and currently with Golberg Weisman Cairo. Sepico is pictured with, from left, Louis Cairo, Joseph Borrelli, Tom Villanova and Anthony Guida. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer
“This is quite an honor. This organization is not just a social club — this organization is about family, and that’s what I love about it,” Cairo explained.
In recognizing a Man of the Year recipient, the IALC looks for people who go above and beyond with leadership skills and a commitment to the Labor movement.
There is no doubt Serpico is a family man. Speaker after speaker made mention of his love of family — which attend the awards night, including his wife, two children and six grandchildren.
Serpico acknowledged his family’s support of his union endeavors over the years. “I’m blessed with an amazing and supportive family . . . who has always been there, to encourage me to succeed.”
Joe Serpico, far right, is shown with his family during the Italian American Labor Council’s annual Dinner Dance where Serpico was the recipient of the Man of the Year award for his leadership skills and a commitment to the Labor movement. Serpico said his family’s support of his union endeavors encouraged him to succeed. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer
He was visibly emotional talking about his grandchildren, who he asked to stand and be acknowledged by guests. “They are my pride and joy. I enjoy being with them so much.”
Serpico started his union career in 1965 as a member of IBEW Local 1031 at the Rauland Division of Zenith Electronics Corporation. He rose through the ranks, becoming Department Steward, Chief Steward, Executive Board Secretary, Business Representative and finally, President in 1989, a position he held until 2005.
Nine years later, in the spring of 2014, IBEW Local 1031 was absorbed by Local 134. Cook County Building & Construction Trades Council President Tom Villanova said he believes if Serpico was still leading that Local, there would have been a different outcome for it.
“I believe they’d be alive and growing. Thank God Joe shares our passion and hope for the future of this organization. He’ll keep the Italian American Labor Council alive and growing for a long time to come,” Villanova said.
After leaving IBEW, Serpico joined Amalgamated Bank of Chicago as Vice President, Relationship Manger, delivering state-of-the-art banking services and products to union customers.
IALC Secretary-Treasurer Joseph Borrelli noted the three industries Serpico has worked in — IBEW, banking and now a law firm — are all very different, yet Serpico has succeeded in all of them. Borrelli believe it’s Serpico’s traits of loyalty, dedication and a sense of humor that propel him forward.
The Italian American Labor Council of Greater Chicago honored Joe Sepico Oct. 3 in Addison with its Man of the Year award for Sepico’s leadership skills and a commitment to the Labor movement. Jennifer Rice, staff photographer
“His dedication may be the key. For our own organization, Joe works tirelessly on our golf outings, this event and on our membership. You’d think this year, being honored, he’d take the year off, but he didn’t. He worked just as hard tonight on his own event as he worked on any other awards event,” Borrelli explained.
Serpico acts as President Emeritus for the IALC
IALC President Anthony Guida presented Serpico the Man of the Year award, adding that Serpico’s passion shows in everything he does. “Your contributions have made this organization prominent in our community.”