Retired IU President John T. Joyce
ohn T. “Jack” Joyce, the longest serving President in the history of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, died February 14th in Washington, D.C. He was 77. Along with his intelligent and innovative leadership of BAC, he was recognized around the world as an eloquent spokesperson for the rights of workers in all countries to freely associate and organize democratic, free trade unions to achieve better lives for themselves and their families. As BAC President from 1979 to 1999, Joyce navigated BAC through a series of profound challenges involving every facet of its operations. Among his lasting achievements were the creation of the International’s pension and health and welfare programs and an expanded governance structure that increased participation among the Union’s diverse membership. His commitment to labor-management cooperation paved the way for the establishment of the International Masonry Institute (IMI), the industry development and training arm of the Union and its signatory contractors that continues to provide state-of-theart craft and safety training for Union bricklayers, tilesetters, cement masons, plasterers, stone masons, marble masons, terrazzo workers and restoration specialists in the U.S. and Canada. In his efforts to ramp up continuing education opportunities for Local Union officers, he infused programs with an array of presenters from rank and file craftworkers to Nobel Laureates. And while there was no fiercer defender of BAC’s status as an independent craft union representing all the trowel trades, guided by Samuel Gompers’ observation that if labor is weak in one place, it is weak in all places, Joyce’s tireless advocacy for workers’ rights transcended industry and national borders. As a Vice President of the AFL-CIO Executive Council he held leadership positions on the Federation’s committees on pension investment, national defense, and housing. Internationally,
he served for 15 years as a member of the U.S. delegation to the International Labor Organization, and on the executive committees of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and its subsidiary, the Inter-American Organization of Workers. Inspired by Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy’s “Architecture for the Poor,” he believed that developing nations would be well served if construction unions in those countries were to link training to affordable housing, and worked to establish building trades and masonry training programs in Egypt, Poland, South Africa and El Salvador. Born December 6, 1935 in Chicago, Brother Joyce followed his father, two uncles and brother into the bricklaying
trade and membership in BAC Local 21 Illinois. His grandfather, also John T. Joyce, was a founder of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters Union and leader of the strike that eventually led to the eighthour workday. His father, Edward R. Joyce, a staunch trade unionist in his own right, served for many years at the helm of Local 21. Jack was only ninemonths old when he attended his first International Union Convention, the first of many. Joyce attended the University of Notre Dame, majoring in English and philosophy. In 1958 he enlisted in the U.S. Army. During his two-year active duty tour he served with the American Forces Network in Europe as a news writer. While in Germany, he met his future bride, Annemarie Straub. After returning
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to Chicago, Joyce worked briefly for the Masonry Institute of Cook County before becoming administrator of the training, pension, and heath funds for Local 21. His coordination and management of these programs significantly enhanced the protections and benefits provided to his home Local’s membership. Recognized for his abilities, he was appointed to the International’s Executive Board in 1966 as Secretary. He next served as Treasurer before becoming President in 1979. Speaking at Brother Joyce’s funeral service, BAC President James Boland remembered his longtime friend and Brother in the trade: “Jack had trade unionism in his blood…He was a rare individual – someone I can truly say was born to lead…He believed passionately in the dignity of the individual worker. And when workers banded together to form unions, he was equally passionate about the capacity of unions to advance social and economic justice. And while he had a bold vision for global solidarity, by far, the greatest proportion of his energies to the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers and the members he loved above all else. He worked tirelessly to ensure that we were thinking ahead, engaging leaders and rank and file members, and making the kinds of changes that would keep our Union and our industry strong. Jack gave his all to our Union, our members, to the labor movement. He enriched our lives beyond measure.” Throughout his career, Brother Joyce was a lifelong enthusiast and promoter of excellence in masonry construction and the skilled craftsmanship that makes it possible. He instituted the union’s prestigious Louis Sullivan Award that periodically honored architects whose work echoed the superior design of the award’s namesake. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Annemarie Straub Joyce, a brother, Edward R.”Bud” Joyce of Chicago, retired Secretary-Treasurer and 75-year member of Local 21 IL, and 18 nephews and one niece.
bricklayers union and allied craftworkers