Gerard retirement among leadership changes
Our union today announced changes in its leadership as a result of a series of retirements, including USW International President Leo W. Gerard, Secretary-Treasurer Stan Johnson and Vice Presidents Carol Landry and Jon Geenen.
The union’s International Executive Board (IEB) passed a resolution approving the plan and the transition, which will take place between now and mid-July when the changes become effective.
“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,” said Gerard. “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.”
Gerard will be replaced by USW International Vice President Tom Conway.
Gerard served the USW for more than 50 years. He began his career at age 18 in the mining industry in northern Ontario, and has since held a series of positions in the union, guiding 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.
Gerard worked as union staff and ultimately became a District Director, the National Director of Canada, Secretary-Treasurer and finally in 2001 the USW’s International President.
During his time with the union, Gerard has been a constant, strong and credible voice for the USW in both Washington, D.C., and Ottawa. He has testified on innumerable occasions on behalf of the union’s membership and their jobs, families and communities.
Gerard served on variety of advisory councils and task forces, setting policy and relentlessly defending workers during his presidency.
Under Gerard’s leadership, the USW formed the first global union, Workers Uniting, and he has built global labor alliances around the world.
He intends to remain active in the labor community but has largely decided to enjoy his well-earned retirement and looks forward to spending more time with his wife and family.
Conway, who will take over for Gerard as USW International President, has been USW Vice President since 2005. He began his career as a millwright at Bethlehem Steel in 1978. He has served as a staff representative and as the secretary of the USW’s Basic Steel Conference. He has also chaired many of the union’s major sector negotiations in steel, mining, aluminum, tire and rubber, oil, and other metals and manufacturing operations.
Conway has led the charge on trade issues affecting these sectors, including the union’s efforts in trade enforcement. He also spearheaded the USW’s efforts in fighting to bring change to the nation’s trade and manufacturing policies.
In addition to serving on the governing board of the Institute for Career Development and the board of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), Conway has been instrumental in building and guiding the USW staff training program and in helping to develop the union’s leadership development program.
Conway’s position as Vice President will be filled by District 1 Director David McCall.
McCall first joined the union’s international executive board in 1998. Beginning his career as a millwright, he has held many union positions, including serving as a staff representative, assistant director and director with more than 40 years of union experience.
McCall, whose district encompasses the state of Ohio, has many years of bargaining experience across the union and chairs major negotiations in steel, paper and other sectors. He also serves as secretary of the USW Constitution Committee.
USW Secretary-Treasurer Stan Johnson will be replaced by District 4 Director John Shinn.
Johnson has served the USW as Secretary-Treasurer since 2009. He began his union career at a URW tire plant in 1975 as a tire builder. He has held many union positions throughout his career at the District and International levels.
As the union’s CFO, Johnson has brought stability, strength and confidence to the union’s finances. He oversees the union’s crucial Rapid Response program and chairs the union’s Rubber and Plastics Industry Conference, leading negotiations with some of the nation’s largest tire makers. He also chairs bargaining within the paper industry.
John Shinn, who will become the union’s next Secretary-Treasurer, currently serves as the director of USW District 4, which encompasses the Northeast corridor states and New England, as well as Puerto Rico.
He joined the USW executive board in 2012 and has aggressively promoted job creation within his district. Shinn chairs the Inter-Union Gas Conference and various committees within the union’s paper conference.
Shinn joined the labor movement in 1974 as a member of the United Glass and Ceramic Workers International Union (UGCWIU), which later merged to become the Aluminum, Brick and Glass Workers (ABG). He served as a staff representative in the ABG and as a sub-director in the USW before becoming director.
Roxanne Brown will take over for International Vice President at Large Carol Landry.
Landry joined the USW executive board in 2008 as the first woman to ever serve on the board, bringing with her years of experience as an activist and negotiator.
Landry began her career in 1986 and held many union positions. She has been responsible for the union’s nuclear and chemical sectors and served as co-chair of the USW’s Next Generation program. She also served as Vice President of the IndustriALL Global Union and spearheaded programs encouraging women to take leadership roles in the union.
Filling Landry’s seat will be Roxanne Brown, who currently serves as USW Legislative Director in the union’s Washington, D.C., office. She will continue to oversee legislative, public policy and political matters while remaining based in the capital.
Brown has a broad base of experience working for legislation that supports USW members and all working people. She also works with the various companies and associations that are impacted by regulations and laws under consideration in the nation’s agencies and Congress. She began working for the USW legislative department in 1999.
International Vice President Jon Geenen will be replaced by Leeann Foster.
Geenen joined the USW Board in 2008 and has overseen bargaining, trade issues and public policy related to the domestic paper industry.
He began his career in 1977 as a journeyman maintenance tech in the pulp and paper industry. Since then, Geenen has worked tirelessly to guide USW paper workers through a maze of mergers and acquisitions, to develop a coordinated pattern of labor agreements within the industry and to improve contract language and strengthen the voice for members.
Leeann Foster, who currently serves as Assistant to the International President and has served as Associate General Counsel since the 2005 USW/PACE merger, will replace Geenen.
Foster works as the lead bargainer with many companies within the paper sector, as well as leading the union’s Women of Steel leadership program. She also serves as the Co-Chair of the IndustriALL Global Union working group for the pulp and paper sector.
Together with Geenen, Foster has led the USW paper industry through difficult bargaining and has worked to develop a safety strategy within the sector.
Throughout these changes, the USW remains a progressive and powerful voice for workers in the United States and Canada and around the world.
“Our union is changing and becoming more diverse,” said Gerard. “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.”
“While we will miss our colleagues,” said Conway, “we recognize their desire to move into new phases of their lives, and we wish all the best for them. They have left behind a solid and stable union, and for that, we thank them.”
The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors.