The IAM is saddened to report that the union has lost retired Western Territory General Vice President Justin Ostro, a longtime leader with a great passion for the IAM and working people. Ostro, 94, passed away on Thursday, June 16, 2022.

“The IAM has lost a true leader and giant of the labor movement,” said IAM Western Territory General Vice President Gary R. Allen. “Brother Justin was the mentor for me, a true fiery Fighting Machinist, and a catalyst for my passion for the IAM and the labor movement. Myself and the entire IAM Western Territory send our heartfelt condolences to the Ostro family during this difficult time.” 

Ostro, a more than 50-year gold member of the IAM, joined the IAM as a structural aircraft mechanic at Republic Aviation in Long Island in 1951. Ostro quickly became a shop steward, with a vision to speak for those without a voice.

He worked his way up through the ranks and quickly became local lodge president, where he was a tenacious negotiator, securing major contracts on behalf of IAM members. As an elected leader with the Long Island Federation of Labor, Ostro and others met with President Lyndon Johnson on union matters.

“Brother Justin made a huge mark on our union and the entire labor movement,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “His legacy has and will continue to live on in the Machinists Union for generations to come. The IAM sends our thoughts and prayers to the entire Ostro family.”

In 1966, Ostro relocated to West Hartford, CT and became an IAM Grand Lodge Representative and chief negotiator for the workers at Pratt and Whitney. Here, he also served as President of the Hartford Labor Council, and Vice President of the Connecticut State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

In 1977, Ostro was elected as a Western Territory General Vice President. He negotiated major contracts with Boeing and Lockheed, continuing to help improve the lives of workers on an even larger scale.

As General Vice President in 1979, United Farm Workers President Cesar Chavez was locked in a tough labor dispute after thousands of its union members demanded better pay from corporate lettuce growers in California. Ostro and Chavez worked closely together as IAM members stood in solidarity.

Ostro was also elected for several terms to the Democratic National Committee where he served as a delegate to many Democratic conventions. While in California, he served as Vice President of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO. Ostro happily retired in 1992 to spend time with his loved ones.

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