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WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.V. – The Association of Union Constructors (TAUC) on May 12 honored Joseph R. La Rocca with its prestigious Spirit of Union Construction Award, reserved for individuals who have dedicated their entire careers to the advancement of the industry.
Mr. La Rocca was presented with the award during a special ceremony as part of TAUC’s annual Leadership Conference, held May 10-13 at The Greenbrier.
Joseph La Rocca is a true pioneer in the union construction industry. He served as Executive Vice President of TAUC’s predecessor organization, The National Erectors Association, from its inception in 1969 until his retirement in 1986. In addition, he also served as the first Impartial Secretary of the National Maintenance Agreements Policy Committee Inc. (NMAPC), and was instrumental in spearheading its creation and shepherding its unprecedented growth throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
“Though I never had the opportunity to work with Joe directly, his dedication to our organizations and the industry as a whole still influence what we do every day,” said Steve Lindauer, CEO of TAUC and Impartial Secretary/CEO of the NMAPC. “Joe and I speak often and I can assure you that his passion for the business and the people who are served by it are still a part of his legacy. His approach, particularly as Impartial Secretary to the NMAPC, was that you don’t just serve the contractors, the participating unions and/or the owner; your service under the NMAPC Program is an even higher calling to the union construction industry as a whole. That is a true testament to his – and our – approach to leadership.”
Colleagues from around the industry gathered to honor Mr. La Rocca. “Joe changed the way union construction work is executed in the industrial sector of our industry,” said Bob Hoover of Aker Solutions. And past Spirit award winner James Mirgliotta of Forest City Erectors said, “As a nationally recognized and active leader in union construction, Joe is constantly building and strengthening relationships with labor, contractors and customers for the benefit of all.”
“They say we stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us. I am one of the many fortunate individuals who can say we stand on his shoulders,” added Eric Waterman, CEO of the Ironworker Management Progressive Action Cooperative Trust (IMPACT).
“I always took the attitude that I wasn’t a contractor representative, I was an industry representative,” Mr. La Rocca told the audience during his acceptance speech. “Every captain of the ship gets credit, but I had an enormous amount of help from a first-rate membership, a blue-ribbon board and wonderful counterparts in labor.”
Mr. La Rocca also remembered the association’s rough early years. “When I took this job, we had $11,000 in the bank and $58,000 worth of debt, and we didn’t have any furniture – we even had a borrowed typewriter! In the first year, I wrote 3,000 letters trying to get people to come aboard as members.” Now, more than 40 years later, both TAUC and the NMAPC are among the most prestigious and influential organizations in the entire union construction industry – a testament to his vision and tireless efforts.
Mr. La Rocca, who will soon turn 87 years old, left the audience with a valuable piece of advice. “If you don’t stick together, you’ll fall apart and disappear,” he said. “Despite all of the problems our industry is having right now, you’re on the right track.”