Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Generational Struggle for Middle Class Wages

Generational Struggle for Middle Class Wages

When Fred Redmond, the Steelworkers’ vice president for human affairs, was a child in Chicago, he and a dozen siblings and cousins spent summers picking cotton for their grandparents in Mississippi.

Fred’s great, great grandparents had been slaves. His grandparents, maternal and paternal, were sharecroppers, working other people’s land. The grandkids’ summer farm work helped Fred’s maternal grandparents meet quotas and scrape by.

Fred says those summers taught him that sometimes people do not reap the value of their work. In Chicago, Fred’s family found a way workers may secure a fairer share of the profits generated from their labor.  That, of course, is collective bargaining. Union membership launched Fred’s family into the middle class, and Fred has devoted much of his life to helping ensure that access to others. 

More ...

Forging a Union Family

Ashlee Fitch

Ashlee Fitch USW Health, Safety and Environment Dept. Intern, United Steelworkers

Forging a Union Family

When I began work in the lab at the Constellium Rolled Products plant in Ravenswood, W.Va., the guys who’d worked with my grandfather there before he retired called me Hoot.

It had been their name for him. So it was an honor to inherit it. And their granting me the moniker they’d first bestowed on him made me feel embraced by the union family at Constellium.

This is what my grandfather, Luther Howard “Hoot” Gibson, had always told me that he cherished most about work: the extended family it gave him. He was proud of his labor as a maintenance man at the plant and proud of the aluminum he helped produce. Most important throughout his life, though, has been the fellowship with his United Steelworkers Local 5668 brothers and sisters.

In so many ways he taught me that while it’s important to do any job well, real job satisfaction comes from building bonds with co-workers. He constructed enduring relationships with union brothers and sisters, friendships that would stand the tests of time and travail.  

More ...

From Ferguson To Raleigh: The March For Jobs And Freedom Continues

Terrance Heath

Terrance Heath Online Producer, Campaign for America’s Future

Fifty-one years ago, thousands of Americans gathered for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Today, events in Ferguson, Mo., and North Carolina show how much work remains, and how we can carry on the mission of the March.

America has made tremendous progress since thousands marched for “civil and economic rights”, and Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech before the Lincoln Memorial. As I wrote last year, on the fiftieth anniversary, we have undoubtedly come a long way:

  • We are more educated. Seventy-five percent of African-Americans complete high school now, compared to 15 percent in 1963. There are 3.5 times more African-Americans attending college, and five college graduates for every one in 1963.
More ...

Wisconsin Company Donated To Scott Walker Weeks After Questionable Tax Credit Deal Went Through

Alan Pyke

Alan Pyke Deputy Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Wisconsin Company Donated To Scott Walker Weeks After Questionable Tax Credit Deal Went Through

Less than a month after voting to give a Wisconsin furniture company a $6 million tax credit that allows it to lay off half its in-state workforce, Gov. Scott Walker (R) received $20,000 in campaign donations from the company’s leadership, a newspaper in the state reports.

Ashley Furniture won the credit from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) in January on a 9-2 vote. As WECD Chairman, Walker was one of the 9 votes in favor. Then in February his campaign received four $5,000 donations from company founder Ronald Wanek, current CEO Todd Wanek, and their respective spouses, the Wisconsin State Journal reports.

More ...

Time for Corporations to Pull their Weight

Time for Corporations to Pull their Weight

Union Matters

Median Income Rises, But Not Fast Enough

The question is, though, will your income go up as fast as the median has?

In June of this year, median income topped out at $53,491.00 for a household of four.  That sounds encouraging and has been cited as evidence of the continuing improvement of our economy.  But the Great Recession of 2009 hasn’t receded completely into memory.  That seemingly robust $53,491.00 remains 3.1 percent below the June 2009 median of $55,589.00, largely because unemployment has been stubbornly slow in lessening.

So it’s still too early to celebrate.  Overall, Americans' median income remains 5.9 percent below its January 2000 level.