Association News

USW President Dies at Age 71

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United Steelworkers President Tom Conway died today at age 71. He had been serving as the president of the international steel union since 2019.

“From his earliest time making steel to his steady hand leading us through the darkest days of the pandemic, Tom followed two simple guiding principles: the dignity of work and the power of working people,” said David R. McCall, the USW’s International vice president of administration. “Tom was never afraid of a fight, and thanks to his ingenuity and determination, generations of workers can enjoy better jobs and brighter futures.”

Conway relished going toe to toe with top leaders of some of the biggest corporations where USW members work, and over the course of his career, he became one of the union’s most accomplished contract negotiators in steel, aluminum, oil and other major industries, often directing bargaining during crises, the union said.

As president, he also spearheaded innovative initiatives to organize more workers into the labor movement, extending the benefits of union representation to workers in a variety of fields from manufacturing to higher education. Under Conway’s leadership, USW members gained some of the movement’s most significant organizing victories.

During his time in office, Conway relentlessly advocated for fair trade, demanding that the government enforce trade laws to prevent importation of illegally subsidized and dumped products that damage domestic industries and destroy good-paying jobs.

Conway first became an activist in USW Local 6787 in 1978 when he went to work at the Burns Harbor Works of Bethlehem Steel. While working as a millwright in the coke plant, Conway served as a griever for plant-wide maintenance and was a member of the safety and contracting-out committees. He joined the union’s International staff in 1987 and was elected as USW International Vice President in 2005.