After 36 hard-fought years, Machinists District 9 Directing Business Representative Tony Rippeto celebrated his retirement at a gala that drew dignitaries from the International Union, the business community and friends and co-workers who have watched as Rippeto guided District 9 into the 21st Century.
“The turnout for Tony was outstanding,” said Directing Business Representative Mark Conner. “Tony was well respected by the IAM leadership, our membership and the business community. His retirement is well-deserved, but he will leave a void in our Union and the labor community.”
Rippeto, who served on the prestigious IAM Law Committee, has been devoted to Machinists Union membership for nearly four decades. Whether it’s filing a grievance, fighting for deserved back pay or attending occasional Local Lodge meetings to meet with members, Rippeto was appreciated.
International Union President Robert Martinez, Jr. said in District 9 “it’s all about great leadership,” but is only as strong as its membership. Rippeto succeeded on both ends, Martinez said.
“Tony has given so much to so many, never asking for anything in return,” Martinez said. “He is a true trade unionist who sacrificed his own wants and needs for Machinists Union members and the labor movement—and he’s done that year after year. It’s been a real privilege, brother. There are men and women who sleep better tonight because of you.”
Rippeto was humbled by the accolades, and said District 9 is about everyone working together.
“I have to thank the office staff, the Pension and Welfare Office staff and the Union Representatives for keeping our Union running smoothly and efficiently,” Rippeto said. “If it hadn’t been for everyone in this organization helping me along the way, I’d never be this far. Pushing for the rights of workers, however, has been built into me.”
General Vice President-Midwest Territory Phil Gruber said Rippeto has proven his commitment to the welfare of our Union and has always been dedicated to helping working families.
“Tony is a true labor leader who has devoted his time, missed family activities and birthdays, and has given much of his life to our Union,” Gruber said. “He has definitely made his mark and will be deeply missed.”
After a stint as a heavy equipment mechanic with the U.S. Air Force and college, Rippeto was first initiated into IAM Local 777 in 1980 when he helped organize the truck shop where he worked as a mechanic. In 1982, he became a shop steward and officer. As an officer, he’s held the positions of sentinel, conductor, vice president and president of Local 777.
Rippeto joined the staff of District 9 on May 1, 1990 as an organizer and was elected as a Business Representative on Jan. 1, 2001. On Jan.1, 2004, he was elected to the position of Assistant Directing Business Representative and appointed as Trustee to the District 9 Welfare and Pension Trust. On April 1, 2009, Rippeto became the DBR of District 9 and also became the Managing Trustee of the District 9 Welfare and Pension Trust.
Rippeto was also a delegate to the District 9 Board, St. Louis Labor Council, St. Louis Labor Council Executive Board, Missouri State Council of Machinists, Midwest States Council of Machinists, Missouri AFL-CIO Executive Board, United Way Executive Board and Guide Dogs of America Executive Board.
He was elected to the office of Secretary-Treasurer of the Missouri State Council of Machinists in 2002 and retires while holding the office of fourth Vice President. Rippeto was elected to the office of Secretary-Treasurer of the Midwest States Conference of Machinists in 2003 and in 2010 was elected President of the Midwest States Conference of Machinists.
A special thank-you was given to IAM Executive Secretary Caroline Kemper for planning, organizing and even preparing hors d’oeurves for Rippeto’s retirement celebration.