I am Mission Success: Tony J.

  • Posted: Tuesday, February 20, 2024, 7:33 am

Pantex Senior Labor Relations Manager Tony J.
Pantex Senior Labor Relations Manager Tony J. has more than 30 years of labor relations experience and loves making a difference.

During new employee orientation, new Pantexans are introduced to Senior Labor Relations Manager Tony J. with a lighthearted, "and now we have the Academy Award winner, Denzel Washington—also known as Tony J.!” Whether or not his comparison to Denzel is because of his winning smile or his charismatic personality, even Jones’ office sign affectionately identifies him as the Remember the Titans and Training Day actor.

Tony arrived at Pantex in 2022 from Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, bringing with him more than 30 years of labor relations experience in various industries, the last eight of which were at DOE facilities.

He says labor relations was never an industry he thought he would be a part of.

“Where I came up, there wasn’t a whole lot of envisioning what you would do when you grew up,” he said. “It was only when I got to Teaneck, New Jersey, to live with my aunt and uncle … that my life took a turn. I traveled with my Uncle Dickie, who was a Broadway musician, and my Aunt Barbara. That was when I went from surviving to thriving. I met Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, The Temptations and more. I met so many positive and thriving African American people and was then able to envision the same future for myself. I went from Kansas to Oz—I felt like I could see in color for the first time. My friends used to tease me and say I was the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

After getting an undergraduate degree in psychology from Fairleigh Dickenson University and a law degree from Case Western Reserve University, Tony landed his first job at United Technologies in Hartford, Connecticut, in labor relations. Though he disliked it at first, Tony then grew to love the work and found that he could make a difference. His main concern is that “we interact with our employees with respect and dignity.”

Tony describes himself as a lifelong learner. Not only has Tony mastered labor relations but he also now understands Pantexans, too. When he arrived, Tony was surprised to find out the “gravity and span of what we do in keeping America and our allies safe. No one else does what we do, and that is very grounding. I am constantly reminding our employees in daily interactions, whether bargaining or non-bargaining, how important our mission is, and that we cannot do it without them.”

From Diana Ross to DOE, Tony has seen a lot. But when it comes to Pantex, he believes we have a special spark when it comes to employee relations.

“I have heard many employers state that their most important assets are their employees. The thing that stands out to me about Pantex is that I see it every day in the way that we care about the safety and well-being of our employees.”

Why are you mission success?
Because I deal with the very people that put their hands on our weapons every day. No matter what our interactions are, I try to remind them how important they are, how important our mission is, and how important they are to our mission. We all have different jobs, and no one is more important than another. We are all Pantexans working toward one goal, which is to be the best we can be in support of our mission.

Who in your life has inspired you most and why?
My Uncle Dickie. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama, at a time when choices of professions for African Americans were little to none, yet he made it to Broadway in New York City! He moved to New York and made something of himself as a Broadway and studio musician. He showed me how to be a man, how to be kind and loving. If it wasn’t for him taking me in, there is a chance I wouldn’t be here. He showed me how to truly love someone who wasn’t your blood and how to be a kind, loving, and responsible individual. I truly believe everything I have achieved is in great part attributable to him.

What characteristics define a good leader to you?
By definition, a leader is someone others are willing to follow. Therefore, some characteristics of a good leader to me are being empathetic, trustworthy, credible, inspirational, and goal-centered. I believe we have leaders like this all over at Pantex –some with leadership titles and many without.

Everyone offers value to our tasks. Why must we be open to learning and hearing from others?
Nelson Mandela once said, “it is always impossible until it is done.” To me, that means some ideas sound improbable to impossible. However, I believe as Mandela did. It was once impossible for African Americans to be free, but we are. It was once impossible for man to land on the moon, but we did. It was only because we listened to ideas of others and dared to hope and dream the impossible. Robert Kennedy once said, “Some see things as they are, and say ’why?’ I see things as they could be and say ’why not?’” As Pantexans, we are challenged every day to be safer and better. It is only by listening to new, improbable and challenging ideas and ways of doing things that we endeavor to do the ‘impossible’ every day.