Petrillo, James C(aesar)
- H. Wiley Hitchcock
- , revised by Joanna R. Smolko
(b Chicago, IL, March 16, 1892; d Chicago, IL, Oct 23, 1984). American Labor leader. He played trumpet and at the age of 14 organized a dance band. He was soon attracted to union activity, and in 1914 he was elected president of the American Musicians Union (AMU) in Chicago. After being defeated for reelection three years later, he resigned from the AMU and joined the American federation of musicians (AFM). He became president of the Chicago local in 1922, was named to the parent union’s executive board in 1932, and in 1940 was elected national president, a post he held until he retired in 1958 (although he retained the presidency of the Chicago local for another four years).
Petrillo was an aggressive, shrewd, and powerful fighter for the musicians in the AFM. He built the Chicago local into a disciplined force in municipal politics and worked to expand the membership at the national level (by ...