The next leader of the United Steelworkers union will be Tom Conway, the man who played a key role in the union's successful bid to impose tariffs on passenger tires from China in 2009. Conway will replace Leo Gerard, who has served as international president since 2001. The change at the top comes as four key union personnel retire: Gerard, Secretary-Treasurer Stan Johnson and Vice Presidents Carol Landry and Jon Geenen. The transition will be complete by mid-July.
Conway, who is also chairman of the USW bargaining committee at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., has led the union's trade issues affecting steel, mining, aluminum, tires and rubber, oil and other metals and manufacturing operations. He's served as USW vice president since 2005.
In 2017, after the International Trade Commission (ITC) voted not to impose tariffs on truck tires imported from China, Conway said, "China continues to ramp up capacity throughout the tire sector, seeking to sell here at any price. It is time for the government to step in so that workers do not have to continue to shoulder the burden of failed trade agreements and policies. Workers are demanding that our government stand up for their interests."
The USW ultimately challenged the ITC's decision in court, and won. Those tariffs became effective in February 2019.
Gerard has served the union for more than 50 years, and spent the last 18 as its leader. The USW says Gerard has guided "it to what it is today. He spent his whole life fighting for working families and labor rights across the globe, and his impact as a labor leader in North America is immeasurable."
Here's a look at how the other retirements, and related promotions, trickle down the leadership ladder:
Conway's position as vice president will be filled by District 1 Director David McCall.
USW Secretary-Treasurer Stan Johnson, who joined the union as a tire builder in 1975, will be replaced by District 4 Director John Shinn. He currently serves as the director of USW District 4, which encompasses the Northeast corridor states and New England, as well as Puerto Rico.
Roxanne Brown will take over for International Vice President at Large Carol Landry, who was the first woman to serve on the union's executive board.
International Vice President Jon Geenen will be replaced by Leeann Foster, who currently serves as assistant to the international president and has served as associate general counsel since the 2005 USW/PACE merger.
Gerard says, “Our union is changing and becoming more diverse. We represent more different kinds of workers in more and more sectors, and our board is changing to reflect that growth. The USW is committed to bringing forward the next generation of labor leaders and to provide the tools, training, and opportunity they will need to succeed.
“These changes in leadership do not mean we are shrinking from any of our longstanding commitments. Rather, these new leaders are redoubling our promises to them and to our mission to always fight for the working class. The new team brings vast experience and knowledge of our industries and issues and will continue the proud traditions the union has always stood for.”