John A. Penello, 88, lawyer among first NLRB employees

January 27, 1998|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

John A. Penello: It was incorrectly stated in the obituary for John A. Penello published in yesterday's editions of The Sun that he was divorced. Mr. Penello was married for more than 40 years to the former Doris Ridgely, who died in 1985. The Sun regrets the error.

John A. Penello, a prominent labor lawyer in Washington, died of respiratory failure Jan. 14 at Arlington (Va.) Hospital. A resident of Severna Park for more than 40 years, he was 88.

He was one of the first employees of the NLRB after the Supreme Court declared the National Labor Relations Act constitutional, joining the agency as a field examiner in Baltimore in 1937.


In 1944, he was appointed chief examiner in New York City and, in 1947, regional director, serving in that capacity in Baltimore, St. Louis and Minneapolis.

On Oct. 14, 1947, Mr. Penello filed the first complaint under the Taft-Hartley Act against the International Typographical Union, which threatened to strike the Baltimore Graphic Arts League of 22 printing companies unless they maintained "closed shop" hiring practices.

Taft-Hartley, passed in 1947, restricted union practices and permitted states to ban union security agreements, effectively limiting the power and influence of labor unions. It also made it unlawful for government employees to strike.

The NLRB sustained the complaint when it held that the union violated Taft-Hartley by threatening a strike against the companies to compel them to maintain "closed shops."

Known as "Doc," Mr. Penello was appointed to the NLRB board by President Richard M. Nixon in 1972 and was reappointed by President Gerald R. Ford in 1976.

He resigned in 1981 to enter private practice.

NLRB Chairman William B. Gould IV said: "Doc Penello devoted more than 43 years of his professional life to the NLRB and enforcing the nation's basic labor relations law. He was a very able lawyer of high principles who made an enormous contribution to our agency and to the development of labor law."

A native of Norfolk, Va., Mr. Penello earned bachelor's and law degrees from the College of William and Mary. He was a member of the Virginia bar.

His marriage ended in divorce.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, 611 Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd., Severna Park.

He is survived by three daughters, Anne P. Depenbrock and Penny Penello, both of Arlington, and Cristine R. Penello of Atlanta; a sister, Catherine Ellison of Oxnard, Calif.; and four grandchildren.

Pub Date: 1/27/98

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