On Wednesday, the United Steelworkers announced the retirements of four of the union’s top leaders, along with the appointment of a new union president.
PITTSBURGH, PA—In a surprising turn of events, on Wednesday, the United Steelworkers (USW) union announced changes in its leadership as a result of a series of retirements.
USW International President Leo W. Gerard, Secretary-Treasurer Stan Johnson and Vice Presidents Carol Landry and Jon Geenen have all announced their retirements, according to a union press release.
In addition, the union announced that International Vice President Tom Conway would be taking over Gerard’s position as president of the union and District 4 Director John Shinn would be taking over as the union’s secretary-treasurer.
Although not all of the retirements will occur immediately, the timing of the shakeup comes at a difficult time for the union.
With members voting to authorize strikes at Alcoa and Arconic, as well as talks breaking down with mining giant Vale in Labrador, Canada, a leadership upheaval may cause members to question the strength of their union.
Gerard, however, sought to dispel any concerns.
“The decision to announce these changes together will ensure that a capable and experienced group of trade union leaders will hit the ground running as a team,” Gerard stated in the release. “It will also pave the way so that the union continues to be on solid footing and that the transition is seamless and serves the best interest of our membership.”
One challenge for Conway, the Steelworkers’ new president, “will involve managing workforce training and maintaining jobs at the Mon Valley Works, the last operating steel mill in Allegheny County,” reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
In addition, the normally Democrat-leaning union faces a “difficult political climate” as many of its members support President Donald Trump due to his putting tariffs on foreign steel.