Lawrence L. Arcioni, a former six-term president of the New Jersey State Employees Association – the precursor to the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and a former assistant commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor, died on August 18. He was 94.
Arcioni joined state government at age 19 when he got a job operating a staple machine at the Unemployment Compensation Commission. Over the next 45 years, he held a series of posts at the Department of Labor.
His service to the State of New Jersey transcended eight governors. He began working for the state when Walter E. Edge was governor.
He became assistant commissioner for administration in 1980 during the administration of Gov. Brendan Byrne and remained during the eight years Thomas Kean was governor. He retired in 1990, during the first year of Jim Florio’s term as governor.
“We became fast friends,” recalled Roger Bodman, who became Commissioner of Labor in 1982. “He was a good guy. He was a good union leader. We had a very respectful relationships.”
In 1967, Arcioni pushed for a 15% pay raise – spread over three years — for state employees, but promised Gov. Richard J. Hughes that there would be no threat of a strike by state workers. He eventually won concessions from Hughes.
During his time as president of the State Employees Association, membership increased from 500 to 18,000, and he represented the interests of more than 31,000 state employees in New Jersey. He assumed the post in 1967 after John Scheck stepped down.
He held the top post until 1974, when Labor Commissioner Joseph Hoffman named him director of administration for the department.
Arcioni served as a trustee of the New Jersey Public Employees Retirement System, as president of the American Society for Public Administration’s New Jersey chapter, and as an evaluator for President Ronald Reagan’s Presidential Management Intern program.
Following his retirement, he founded Arcioni Consulting Associates, which helped New Jersey companies to solve labor law issues and to introduce them to doing business with the public sector.
Arcioni was a Trustee for the Health and Pension Plans for Teamsters Local 35, and served on the arbitration panel for the New Jersey State Board of Mediation and the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission.
A proud Italian American who grew up in the Chambersburg section of Trenton, Arcioni was honored twice by the President of Italy and was a member of several Italian American organizations in Mercer County.
Arcioni is survived by his two children. He was predeceased by his wife of 63 years, Estelle.