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Southern Labor Archives: Voices of Labor Oral History Project: V

Interviews with labor leaders from Georgia and across the South.

Villano, Marco

Marco Villano

Interviewed by: Chris Lutz; September 1995
Transcript inf 32 pages (2 tapes, 90 minutes each)
Accession No: L1995-12.21

Biographical Information:
Marco Villano was born September 29, 1906 in New York City.  His grandfather was active in the labor movement and Mike’s union involvement began in his teens.  His father used the Americanized surname “Williams” and his son followed in his footsteps.  Within the labor movement Marco Villano is known as Mike Williams.  He graduated from the Mechanic’s Institute in 1928.  He was a union member when the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) joined forces and continued his membership after the merger.

Villano discusses his youth and family background, his grandfather’s union organizing in New York City, and his father’s decision to change his surname from Villano to Williams because of the discrimination against Jews and Italians.  He talks about working as a plumber in the 1920s and his brief movie-acting career.  Reminiscing about the labor movement, Villano mentions George Meany, the merger of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), the Great Depression and union work on buildings for the World’s Fair (c. 1940).  On the benefits of unionism, Villano says, “Without unionism you still would be back in the sweatshop days.”  He also discusses the traveling to find work during World War II.  Villano candidly discusses bigotry against Italian, Jewish, Irish, and African Americans and support for Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal.  He also voices his opinions on other Presidential elections. 

Union Represented: AFL-CIO

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