Brother Joe Contardi, a dedicated Teamster and lifelong member of Local Union 879, died peacefully in his sleep on the night of August 28, 2017. He was 88 years old.
Joe’s life and career as a union leader are worth celebrating.
Born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario, Brother Contardi was a twin and the youngest child in a family of seven. He attended St. Ann’s School, the Hamilton Technical Institute and Westdale Collegiate.
He joined the Teamsters on Boxing Day in 1945 as an apprentice mechanic at Walmer Transport. His colleagues elected him Chief Steward four years later. At the time, he was actively involved in helping organize and build Local Union 879.
The local union’s executive board took note of his activism. In 1962, his local hired him as an organizer and business agent. Soon after, in 1964, Joe was elected vice-president of the local union. He worked in that capacity until the untimely death of President Ray Taggart, whereupon he was asked to assume the presidency. Joe ended up serving at the helm of Local Union 879 from July 31, 1972 until his retirement at age 65.
Joe also served one term as president of Teamsters Joint Council 52 from 1972 until 1975, and as vice-president from 1976 until 1994.
Joe played an active role on the national stage. He was a founding member of the Canadian Conference of Teamsters, which later became Teamsters Canada. Moreover, he served as a member of the national executive board from 1976 until his retirement, and as a national representative for Teamsters Canada.
In 1995, past Teamsters Canada President Louis Lacroix described Joe Contardi as an asset to our great union. “A Teamster who [was always] up to the task,” Lacroix once wrote.
Current Teamsters Canada President François Laporte also called Joe “an exemplary trade unionist with an extraordinary legacy.”
Visitation will be held at the L.G. Wallace Funeral Home on September 4 and 5 from 2 pm to 4 pm, and from 7 pm to 9 pm. A chapel service will be held on Wednesday, September 6 at 10:30 am.
A celebration of Joe’s life will be held at the Moose Lodge on Barton Street East, Hamilton on Sunday, September 24 from 1 pm to 4 pm.
Joe had a demanding career with many ups and downs. But through it all, everyone knew that he loved every minute of it.