Retired Local 793 business manager Joe Kennedy has been granted honorary lifetime membership in the union.

The union’s insurance committee voted on the honour March 24 and business manager Mike Gallagher made the announcement at a special e-board meeting in Oakville the next day.

Kennedy attended the e-board meeting with his grandson, Simon.

“It’s a great privilege to announce that the insurance committee has unanimously afforded you this great honour of being made an honorary lifetime member of Local 793,” Gallagher said at the meeting.

“I certainly believe Joe is deserving of this honour. He built a pretty important foundation for us to build on. This is the right thing for us to do.”

Gallagher had recommended in a letter to the insurance committee that Kennedy be approved.

Kennedy was at the helm of the union for 18 years. He was elected business manager of the local in 1974 and held the post until his retirement in 1992.

A crane operator by trade, Kennedy joined the union while working in Mattawa, Ont. with his father. He used to fire up the boilers for his father’s steam-powered crane.

Kennedy was initiated Oct. 17, 1951 and is a 66-year member of Local 793.

As an operator, he worked on projects across Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia, including the Angus MacDonald Bridge in Halifax, the Burlington Skyway, the mines of Elliot Lake and the Bruce Generating Station. He was frequently appointed union steward on many of the jobs.

At the e-board meeting, Gallagher said he learned from Kennedy what it takes to be a good leader and business manager.

He also noted that Kennedy oversaw the introduction of Local 793’s pension and life and health benefits plans and it was through his persistent efforts that the long-sought-after compulsory indentured apprenticeship for the trade of hoisting engineer became reality.

“What we have as far as our pension was started by Joe,” said Gallagher. “Before Joe Kennedy there was no mandatory training for the hoisting trade and it was because of him that came about.”