USW International President Leo Gerard spoke with The Leslie Marshall Show this week about the leadership transitions that will be taking place within the union this summer as well as about the many issues he has tackled throughout his tenure.
“This is a good time because we’ve got people in place who have got skills and knowledge and experience, so it can be a really smooth transition,” Gerard said. “We’re going to increase the number of women on our board by 100 percent and diversify our board some more.”
Gerard spoke about the need to continue strengthening the union by strengthening its international alliances, especially at a time when corporations have gone global.
“The global financial industry is actually unified in their cause and their cause is to enrich the already rich and powerful at the expense of the rest of us,” he said. “If we try to take that on one union at a time, they’ll just walk right over us, but if we do it through collective bargaining and through solidarity and we build strong alliances, then they won’t just walk right over us.”
Gerard also spoke on another issue currently dominating the global conversation—trade. The Steelworker president believes both parties need to take up the issue on countries like China not playing by the rules.
“You can’t expect us to participate in trade on an unlevel playing field. You can’t expect us to go head to head with China when China subsidizes [industry].” Gerard said. “We need trade—we’re all for trade—but we’re for trade with a level playing field. We’re for trade that’s balanced.”
The outgoing president said the union will continue filing trade cases on behalf of U.S. industry in order to push Washington to finally take the action American workers need.
“Part of it is that the trade laws in the U.S. are out of date,” he said. “They don’t meet the needs.”
At the end of the day, this fight, and every other fight, is one the union must take up alongside its alliances.
“There’s no one organization that’s going to change the inequities of this world,” Gerard said. “We have to do it in a way that brings all working people and progressives together.”