Giovanni (John) Carlo Stefanini was born in Italy in 1940. At age 19, he set out to join his sister and brother-in-law in Toronto. Without much English, Stefanini found a place within the burgeoning Italian community in Toronto’s west end and began work with tradesmen. However, it soon became clear that his real skill was found not in the trades, but in connecting with the people. He quickly turned to organizing workers. Following the Hoggs Hollow disaster that resulted in the deaths of five Italian workers and galvanized workers to action, he became an organizer with the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Local 183, then led by its founder Gerry Gallagher. Thanks to his organizing efforts, the membership quickly grew. It eventually became the biggest construction local in North America.
In 2019, Stefanini penned his memoir, More Than We Bargained For: An Untold Story of Exploitation, Redemption, and the Men Who Built a Worker’s Empire, recounting his time and experiences organizing.