District 12 – SOAR’s Joel Buchanan Represents USW at Pueblo Pride Festival

“Our union is one of inclusion. America has always been a country that celebrates diversity, and SOAR needs to reflect that,” says Joel Buchannan, a 43-year USW member and retiree from Evraz Rocky Mountain Steel (formerly Oregon Steel).

In August, 2017 he represented the USW and the Pueblo Central Labor Council (PCLC) at the Pueblo LGBTQ Pride Festival. This annual event is held to bring together members, friends, family and supporters of the LGBTQ community to celebrate acceptance and diversity. This is the second consecutive year that the USW and the PCLC has participated and supported the festival. The festival also received support from AFSCME, the Fire Fighters and Colorado WINS, which represents more than 31,000 state employees.

“We’ve thought it was important to be here not just to support the (LGBTQ) community, but to also promote the labor movement to groups that aren’t always associated with us,” remarked Buchannan on why it is important that the USW maintains a presence at the festival. “Being here helps broaden support for our issues, while also raising our awareness of others who are being taken advantage of or discriminated against in our communities.”

Throughout his 43 years as a USW member, Joel has never passed an opportunity to get his hands dirty; whether it was in the mill or in the streets working to improve things for fellow Steelworkers. For the majority of his work he was a mechanical technician, but retired as an operator in the tube mill.

In the late 1990’s, he was heavily involved in our union’s efforts against an illegal lockout at Oregon Steel that lasted seven years – one of the longest in USW history. During this time he was also working to raise his three sons, who are now parents to his three grandchildren.

In retirement, Joel has continued to do everything he can to improve the lives of not just Steelworkers, but all working families across Colorado. In addition to serving as a SOAR Executive Board Member in USW District 12, Joel was appointed in 2015 by Governor Hickenlooper to the Colorado Workforce Council and the Colorado Workforce Grant Review Committee. He also serves on the State Executive Board for the Alliance for Retired Americans.

“Retirement doesn’t have to be all about taking it easy if you don’t want it to be,” Joel explains about why he stays involved in so much. “Workers aren’t the only ones under attack. We have a lot of people we can be supporting and organizing with – there is strength in numbers.”

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