ALBANY — Geordie Pierce, a former longtime CSEA staff member who was beloved by his co-workers and union members, has passed away. He was 79.
“It is with a heavy heart that I share that our longtime friend and colleague, Geordie Pierce, passed away on Thursday, July 6, at his home in Troy,” said CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan. “Geordie was CSEA through and through and was a constant presence at all things CSEA.”
Geordie began his career at CSEA in 1978 in the Building Maintenance Department. He later joined our union’s Organizing Department, eventually becoming Lead Organizer. He held that title until he retired on Nov. 1, 2019.
Through his work, he helped numerous members form unions with CSEA. In his obituary, it was noted that “helping workers to unionize was his gift and gave him the greatest satisfaction.”
Geordie also played a key role in numerous labor campaigns both in New York and other states and was well known and respected in the national labor movement.
His lifelong fight for justice was shaped by his personal history.
Both and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland, along with many siblings, Pierce began his career as a seaman working on merchant ships carrying Irish whiskey to the United States.
After several years on the seas, he became a salesman at the Arthur Guinness Company in Belfast.
He held this job during the Northern Ireland’s conflict between Catholics and Protestants, commonly called the “Troubles.” The sales job required Geordie, a Catholic, to service Protestant-owned pubs, which was more dangerous than being at sea as Catholics were persecuted in Northern Ireland. While on the job, Geordie was forced to extract himself from life-threatening situations.
Geordie relocated to New York City in 1976 and soon moved to the Capital District and began his long career at CSEA.
From the United States, he raised awareness of the Northern Irish Troubles and participated in numerous demonstrations. In the 1990s, Geordie also played a minor role in the peace talks that involved American and Irish political leaders.
Known for his lightning-quick wit, Geordie was known as the “life of the party,” and he loved people and laughter. He also frequently hosted golf and sightseeing tours of Ireland for his family, friends and co-workers.
In 1995, Geordie was also the first CSEA staff member to receive our union’s Kim Hytko Memorial Award, which is presented to a staff member who embodies Hytko’s qualities of caring for others, making others laugh and helping the less fortunate.
Geordie is survived by his wife, Kathy, children Paul and Karen and many siblings in Ireland.
Funeral services were held in Troy on July 13.