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IAFELICE, JAMES

IAFELICE, JAMES (3 Jan. 1913-8 Mar. 1998), head of District 54 of the International Association of Machinists, was one of Cleveland's most influential labor leaders. He was born in Cleveland to Concillia "Mary" (Bonavia) and Dominic Iafelice. He grew up in the Murray Hill neighborhood and dropped out of high school to help support his family during the Depression. Iafelice's first job, which he landed in 1935, was as a furnace laborer at Chase Brass and Copper Co. In 1939, he helped organize a union there. After he later complained about the representation of the workers, he was encouraged to run for a position in the union and was elected as the job evaluation representative. In this position he was given the mandate to make sure each worker received appropriate rates of pay. He became the business representative in 1961 and was elected president of his local in 1965. Encouraged numerous times to become an international vice-president of the machinist union in Washington D.C., Iafelice turned the offer down so that he could remain in Cleveland with his family.

Iafelice was appointed chairman of the AFL-CIO's Committee on Political Action and played a role in helping Howard Metzenbaum become a U.S. Senator. He had earlier broken ranks with labor and helped Republican James A. Rhodes defeat Democratic Gov. John J. Gilligan. He was soon appointed to the Lottery Commission. Iafelice was a vice president of both the Cleveland and Ohio AFL-CIO's. He was a member of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church and was active in the Knights of Columbus and the Lions Club. He was honored by the Italian-American Democratic League for his distinguished community contributions. Iafelice married Mary Colarochio in 1935 and together they had two children: Constance and John. Iafelice's remain are buried in All Souls Cemetery in Chardon, OH.