USW Atomic Council Mourns Passing of District 12 Director Bob LaVenture

District 12 Director Bob LaVenture was a staunch supporter of the Atomic Energy Workers Council (AEWC), who always tried to attend meetings if his busy schedule permitted it.

This included the Oct. 31/Nov. 1 meeting earlier this fall. Almost two weeks later, he passed away suddenly while on a trip to meet with the Arizona AFL-CIO to gain support for the Asarco workers engaged in an unfair labor practice strike. He was 68.

“Bob was a tireless union activist who always fought on the side of working people, first in his home state of Wisconsin and later on behalf of our members in District 12,” said USW International President Tom Conway. “Bob was a good friend who touched many lives. He will be sorely missed.”

LaVenture had three major USW-represented nuclear sites in his district:  the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in eastern Washington State, the Idaho National Laboratory west of Idaho Falls, Idaho, and the Waste Isolation Pilot Project, east of Carlsbad, N.M. Each site had its own unique challenges.  At AEWC meetings, LaVenture listened intently to the members describing their issues and worked with them on possible ways to address the problems.

“Bob was an invaluable member of the Atomic Energy Workers Council,” said USW International Vice President Roxanne Brown, who leads the union’s nuclear sector. “We will miss his leadership, his dedication to our members and union, and his kind, thoughtful manner.”

LaVenture joined the labor movement in 1970 when he went to work at an International Harvester—now Navistar—foundry in Waukesha, Wis., as a member of Local 3740. He participated in his local as a trustee, local union steward, vice president and president.  While he was a local president, he helped create the first worker education center in Wisconsin, called the Navistar Education Center. He then went on to help develop other worker education centers as a state AFL-CIO coordinator.

In 1993, LaVenture was appointed to a USW staff representative position, and in 2009, he became District 12 director.

“As a director, Bob was a fierce advocate for American industry and jobs, chairing contract negotiations with EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel, Kaiser Aluminum, ASARCO, and Kennecott Utah Copper, as well as heading the USW Cement Council,” Conway said. “He was also profoundly dedicated to cross-border solidarity, working closely with our union brothers and sisters at Los Mineros in Mexico, fighting so that all workers could have a better life.”

Tax-deductible donations can be made in honor of Bob LaVenture to the Steelworkers Charitable and Educational Organization (disaster relief fund) that helps USW members when they are in need and struggling to recover after a natural disaster.

Checks should be made out to the “Steelworkers Charitable and Educational Organization,” and mailed to:

Steelworkers Charitable and Educational Organization
60 Boulevard of the Allies
Room 1109
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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