The United Auto Workers & The Western New York Labor Movement ‘Mourn The Loss’ Of Geri Ochocinska, The ‘First Woman Elected Regional Director In UAW History’
(BUFFALO, NEW YORK) – United Auto Workers (UAW) National President Ray Curry and the UAW International Executive Board announced the passing (on Monday, January 17th) of former UAW Region 9 Director Geri Ochocinska - the first Woman elected as a Regional Director, serving two terms from 1998 until her retirement in 2006.
In 1994, Ochocinska was also the first Woman to be appointed Assistant Director of Region 9 by legendary Region 9 Director, the late Tom Fricano. She was re-elected in 2002 to lead UAW Region 9, an area that includes New York, New Jersey and most of Pennsylvania.
UAW President Curry said in a statement posted on the UAW’s website: Geri was a pioneering Trade Unionist who broke the glass ceiling when she was elected Regional Director of Region 9. She organized the Rich Ice Cream Company in 1965, rising in her Local to become Vice President and Financial Secretary during a time when Female Elected Leaders were rare. Once appointed to the UAW International Staff in 1976, Ochocinska was a strong Labor Representative with over 60 companies in Western New York. We honor Geri Ochocinska for her lifetime of service, advocacy for Working Families and most of all for being a pioneer leader of women who paved the way for so many influential UAW women in leadership. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Ochocinska Family.”
Ochocinska became a UAW Member in 1965 after helping organize her Co-Workers at the Rich Ice Cream Company in Buffalo as a Technical, Office and Professional Unit of UAW Amalgamated Local 55.
She was elected Unit Chair and served until 1969, when she became the Local’s Office Manager and Assistant Administrator of its Retirement Income and Welfare Funds.
In 1971, Ochocinska was promoted to Business Representative of the local with responsibilities including contract negotiation and grievance and arbitration handling for many of the Local 63 Units.
She was elected Vice President and Financial Secretary/Treasurer before being appointed as a Region 9 International Representative in 1976 to service more than 60 companies in Western New York.
Ochocinska also developed and taught Educational Programs for Union Leaders and assisted in organizing new Members.
Ochocinska also served as a Board of Directors Member on a number of organizations, including the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), the Statewide Labor Advisory Committee for Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Union Occupational Health Center, Coalition of Economic Justice, Northeast-Midwest Alliance of Management and Labor, the Public Broadcasting Association of Western New York, and the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.
She was also a President of the Industrial Relations Research Association of Western New York.
The Western New York AFL-CIO Area Labor Federation released the following funeral details for Ochocinska: