NFFE Mourns the Passing of Former NFFE National Secretary-Treasurer John Paolino

John P

March 7, 2022

It is with heavy hearts that we share the passing of former NFFE National Secretary-Treasurer, John M. Paolino, who lost his lengthy battle with Parkinson’s disease in recent days. John passed away on February 23, 2022 at 80 years of age. He is survived by his wife, Gloria, as well as his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. You can view John’s obituary and leave a tribute message here.

An air traffic controller by trade, before his time with NFFE John served as a National VP of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO), which followed his service in the Marines. John began his career at NFFE as a field representative in the Midwest. Later, he served as Director of Collective Bargaining and Assistant Directing Business Representative. John finished his stellar career with NFFE as National Secretary-Treasurer, a position he held for more than five years before retiring in April of 2007. In 2017, John was awarded the NFFE Lifetime Achievement award for his 21 years of exemplary service to our Union.

Retired NFFE National Business Representative Jim Davis, a friend and colleague of Paolino since 1985, said, “John was about You-and-I, the first three letters of ‘UNION.’ John’s transparent agenda was helping people. He ensured fair and equitable treatment for all members. He handled grievances, arbitrations, OWCP, contract negotiations, organizing, as well as signing up new union members. He was also a steady hand for NFFE during a very turbulent period in the 1990s. It is not an exaggeration to say that without John Paolino and his positive influence on NFFE in that period, NFFE might no longer exist. That is the kind of impact John had on our union.”

John’s exemplary career was a testament to his dedication to his union brothers and sisters at NFFE and the members he represented. However, John’s service reached far beyond just the bargaining table, in contracts he negotiated, or his day-to-day office work. Perhaps his greatest contribution was his role as a mentor to those around him. He made sure that he did everything he could to help others in the union have success, providing sound advice and thoughtful guidance to those who needed it.

“There are very few who can match the contribution John Paolino made to our union and NFFE-IAM members everywhere,” said NFFE National President Randy Erwin. “For more than 20 years, John worked tirelessly for this union when there were better paying and more prestigious options available to him. He stayed at NFFE out of loyalty, plain and simple. I will always be grateful that I had the opportunity to know and work with John. I learned so much about how to be a union leader just by watching his work ethic and how he conducted himself, and so did many others. He was universally respected, and everyone who worked with him learned from him. John will forever by cherished in this union. We send our heart-felt condolences to his wife, Gloria, and his whole family.” 

John will be interred at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery on Friday March 25th at 11 am. 


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