...parties and Labor Day events for the members’ families, including his two young children, Michael and Amanda. In 1981, he successfully ran for a full three-year term and became trustee chairman, a job that included reviewing financial records.

Taking Off

The next phase of Maloney’s career was taking off. In 1984, he made a successful bid for the Local 128 presidency, a part-time job that included chairing executive board meetings and monthly union meetings while continuing to work with tools. He also was appointed chief steward, a responsibility that included supervising about 500 boilermakers working at Lake Ontario’s Pickering Nuclear Generating Station.

About a year later, Maloney got his first full-time leadership assignment when he was sent to Sarnia, in southwestern Ontario, to fill in as business representative. "I went for three days and stayed three years," he says.

By 1987, Maloney had a desire to make more meaningful changes. He tossed his hat in the race for the local’s secretary-treasurer, a victory that moved him back to Toronto. "I just wanted to get in the office where I could make some real changes," he says. Specifically, Maloney hoped to make the ‘out-of-work’ list more fair by instituting a two-tier system for short- and long-term jobs. "I was trying to think differently, getting more creative," he says.

In 1990 the local’s top job, business manager, opened up when the incumbent left to join the union’s international staff. Maloney was elected and Hugh Laird, a close friend since their apprenticeship days, was elected secretary-treasurer. "Joe is a visionary," says Laird, now executive director for the Interior Systems Contractors Association of Ontario.

"We did some good stuff for the local, [but] the membership hated us back then," says Laird. One source of conflict was Maloney’s push to increase pension contributions from $1.25 per hour to $3.75. "Joe convinced them they would retire at nearly full wages" if they increased their hourly contributions, says Laird. "Joe was a salesman, and he went out and sold it to the membership."

Connected. Maloney has had many mentors along the way, including family (above) and friends, such as Richard Albright (left). (Photos courtesy of Joe Maloney)

One mentor who has seen Maloney mature in his career is Richard C. Albright, now a boilermakers’ union international vice president. Albright, then an official in Local 146 in Edmonton, Alberta, first met Maloney when he was an apprentice. "I’d call Joe an elite boilermaker," says Albright. Their friendship grew as Maloney and Albright began attending the same meetings. Albright says he was impressed with how the younger man handled himself, and with his sense of humor.

One of Maloney’s first duties as business manager was to participate in negotiations for the boilermakers’ country-wide collective bargaining agreement. About 50 people were at the opening session, including business managers from all lodges and officials from contractor associations. Albright remembers that as the meeting was about to begin, the door opened and Maloney walked in pulling a cart loaded with files. "Hi guys, I’m Joe Maloney and I’m here to collect a bargain. You bargain and I’ll collect," Albright recalls. "That entrance was absolutely priceless," Albright says, underscoring another Maloney characteristic. "Joe does his homework. He always prepares for the meeting."

Maloney’s success also had caught the attention of senior officials at the boilermakers’ international headquarters in Kansas City. "They spotted the talent in him," says Jim Tinney, who has known Maloney for more than 20 years and is the current business manager of Local 128. In 1992, Maloney joined the union’s international staff representing members across eastern Canada from Ontario to Newfoundland. In that post, he was instrumental in watering down contentious legislation that he says could have weakened international construction unions by establishing Ontario-based unions and severing ties with the U.S. parent. "We were able to keep the internationals intact," he says.

In January 1993, the boilermakers sent Maloney to the elite 12-week Harvard University Trade Union Program to further develop his leadership skills. Six months later, he was asked to join BCTD’s Canadian office in the number two position. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d leave the boilermakers’ organization," says Maloney. In 1996, he became BCTD Canadian director. Maloney was still climbing the leadership ladder, he just didn’t know how far up he was going.

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In January 2000, long-time BCTD President Robert A. Georgine planned to announce his retirement. In addition to his BCTD post, Georgine also was the top official at ULLICO Inc., the labor-owned insurance and financial services firm. During his 1995 BCTD reelection bid, the delegates decided he must relinquish one of those jobs before the July 2000 election. By stepping down early, Georgine could hand-pick his successor as building trades chief.

Georgine chose Sullivan, then the general president of the elevator constructors’ union. But Georgine had something else up his sleeve. The number-two post at the building trades had been vacant for years. During much of Georgine’s 29-year tenure, Joseph F. Maloney, a former ironworker and no relation, served as BCTD secretary-treasurer. "Big Joe Maloney," as he now is called, retired in 1995 and the post had been vacant since 1997, leaving Georgine to single-handedly run the department.

But Sullivan wasn’t willing to go it alone. Georgine and "Big Joe"–who stayed involved in BCTD affairs–wanted to elevate Maloney from his Canadian post to put an international stamp on BCTD. "That’s the first I ever heard of Joe Maloney," Sullivan says.

Big Joe describes the younger Maloney as a rough, tough construction worker who also has a suaveness that people don’t recognize at first. "He’s a typical boilermaker, but has a tremendous intellect," Big Joe explains. Georgine made Maloney the offer.

Winners. Sullivan and Maloney overcame many obstacles to win the top posts at the AFL-CIO’s Buidling and Construction Trades Dept. and plan to run for a second five-year term in August. (Photos courtesy of Joe Maloney)

"I said ‘whoa, you’re kidding,’" Maloney recalls. "I was flabbergasted and honored." But the offer meant more than a promotion, it meant moving to a new country. "We had all of an hour to make a decision to change countries," says Jeanette. "I’ve always supported his goals. It was his decision."

It also was the decision of the 15 union presidents and there was opposition. Some thought both leaders should be American, but when the votes were counted, they were elected.

The new officers barely knew each other, but had mutual admiration for each other’s craft. "There’s nothing that a boilermaker and an elevator constructor can’t fix," they joke. A partnership soon was forged. Sullivan would oversee the department and focus on lobbying issues while Maloney would be the hands-on person, heading up projects. Despite their different personalities, they do not clash, says a top aide.

Rocky Start

But their term started off rocky, with tough decisions to be made. BCTD finances were in trouble and the 15 union presidents could not agree on a fix, a department organizing program was ending without the desired results and tensions were building. During the first year, there were calls for their resignations, but Sullivan and Maloney stuck it out.

"There were definitely some dark moments," Maloney says. He may have questioned leaving his old job, but says he never considered quitting. Instead, Maloney stresses his belief that hard work pays off. "You just roll your sleeves up and try and do the right thing," he says.

Sullivan and Maloney started turning BCTD around. New programs were launched, including H2H. Maloney also has spearheaded rejuvenation of the national coordinating committee on apprentices, pushed new training and education programs and played a leading role in the Construction Users Roundtable Tripartite Initiative (CTI). The group of owners, contractors and union presidents will soon begin pilot programs to ease workplace disruptions, including jurisdictional disputes, absenteeism and overtime. "Joe was the prime mover in framing the points on work disruptions," says CTI member Ralph Johnson, a retired Turner Corp. executive and a former Associated General Contractors president. Maloney is successful because he can work well with a lot of different type of people, is organized and is a good manager, says Johnson.

Another source of Maloney’s success is his boundless energy. "Working with Joe, you better be wide awake and ready to go," admits Bob Ozinga, the BCTD chief of staff. "He is extraordinarily energetic and has a tremendous drive and focus." People who have known him for years insist that he is down to earth and does not have an inflated ego. "He’s still Joe Maloney. He is who he is and who he was before, which I think is admirable," says Robert Blakely, Maloney’s successor at BCTD’s Canadian office.

His wit is legendary, as is the string of one liners and unusual expressions, some likely Canadian colloquialisms. Frequently sprinkled into conversation are "jeepers creepers," "those rascals," "good stuff," and "tickety-boo." He often uses his humor to inject some levity when a meeting runs long or becomes confrontational. But Maloney also gets the job done. "As secretary-treasurer, he kicks asses and takes names." says Blakely. But at the same time, "there is no question [that Sullivan] is the captain of the ship," adds Blakely.

Despite his $280,895 BCTD salary (including expenses for official business), Maloney appears at ease whether presiding at a meeting of union presidents,...