Former OCAW Secretary-Treasurer Joe Christie Passes

R.J. “Jo” Christie, 82, passed away on Sept. 16, 2017, one month before turning 83.

Christie was the last secretary-treasurer of the Oil, Chemical, & Atomic Workers Union (OCAW) before the January 1999 merger with the United Paperworkers International Union (UPIU) that formed the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers Union (PACE).

He became the merged International union’s treasurer and retired in 2000. He became a member of Oil Workers International Union Local 227 in 1953 when he went to work at Sinclair Refining Co. in Houston. In 1954, the U.S. Army drafted him. After his honorable discharge in 1956, he returned to his job at the Sinclair refinery and renewed his membership in the local, which was now OCAW Local 4-227.

Christie served as a steward and member of the workers committee. He became chairman and represented Local 4-227 in the Sinclair Master Contract negotiations. He also was a delegate to the OCAW District 4 Council and the Sinclair Nationwide Council.

In 1967, Local 4-227 members elected Christie to be the local’s full-time secretary-treasurer. He was responsible for the local’s finances, participated in contract negotiations, and handled arbitration cases.

He also represented Local 4-227 and the International union as a vice president/trustee of the Texas AFL-CIO. Central labor council delegates elected him to be president of the Harris County AFL-CIO.

OCAW International President Robert F. Goss appointed Christie in 1977 to be an international representative in OCAW District 7. Stationed in Springfield, Ill., he worked with locals in the Pekin/Peoria and Wood River/East St. Louis areas.

In 1980, Christie was transferred to OCAW District 3 and assigned to the Houston/Beaumont, Texas, area. In 1981, he was appointed to be an International auditor, working with OCAW Districts 1, 2, 4 and 5. He remained in that position until 1988 when he was appointed to be OCAW District 4 director. In 1991, he was appointed the regional director since OCAW Districts 4 and 5 consolidated into the OCAW Gulf Coast region.

At the last OCAW international convention in August 1997, delegates elected Christie to be the International Secretary-Treasurer. He replaced Ernie Rousselle, who retired Sept. 1, 1997.

Upon his election, Christie said: “This, I guess, is the greatest praise you could ever (give) me, and the simplest thing I can say is, ‘Thank you very much. I will work hard for you. I will support the programs, the policies of this great International union….I’ll do the best job that I know how.’”

When Christie was elected International Secretary-Treasurer, he selected Dan Edwards to be his assistant in the International union’s Lakewood, Colo., office.

“You could not ask for a better ‘boss’ to work for than Joe,” Edwards said.

Carol Boggs, administrative assistant to USW District 13 Director Ruben Garza, had been Christie’s administrative assistant from 1988 to 1997. “He was a great man and will certainly be missed.”

“Joe was a great labor leader and a kind man,” said Kim Nibarger, who heads the USW’s National Oil Bargaining Program. “He served the members well. Our condolences to his wife, Pat, and the rest of their family. May Joe rest in peace.”

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