Conway: ‘We are Everybody’s Union’

International President Tom Conway opened the USW’s 2022 Constitutional Convention on Monday, Aug. 8, with an address that celebrated the union’s victories and recommitted the USW to leading the fight for better lives for workers in the coming years.

“We make things. We help people. We are the backbone of this economy,” Conway told the approximately 2,000 USW member delegates gathered at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. “And we are never, ever going to let anyone forget how essential we are.”

Conway, in his first convention address since becoming USW president in 2019, said that Steelworkers in all sectors of the economy – from health care to manufacturing – have proved repeatedly that they are an indispensable part of keeping the nation running, through the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges.

“The work we’ll be doing here this week,” he said, “is some of the most important we do as a union.”

That work, he said, includes rededicating the USW to its core mission, and laying out a plan for the future to ensure that mission will be successful.

“That’s why we’re here brothers and sisters,” Conway said. “Because every worker deserves a seat at the table and the protections of a union contract.”

Making sure more workers gain those protections, he said, means constantly growing the union by mobilizing member organizers across the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean, who will talk to their peers about joining the movement.

“If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that workers are hungry for unions,” he said. “We’re going to expand existing efforts in our traditional sectors, and we’re going to look at new industries.”

Conway said the efforts of every USW member – local bargaining and safety committees, Rapid Response and political activists, Women of Steel, Next Generation leaders and SOAR members – will be integral to those fights, as the union is sure to face opposition from greedy employers and anti-union politicians.

 “Corporations try to exploit our differences,” Conway said. “But what they get instead is relentless, unwavering solidarity.”

On Monday, the USW delegation heard from other speakers and passed a series of resolutions meant to strengthen the union’s commitment to those fights, including a resolution reinforcing the 2022 convention theme, “Everybody’s Union.” Conway returned to that theme throughout his address.

“We know what it means to be part of everybody’s union,” he said. “It’s an unyielding dedication to watching out for each other and helping each other through tough times.”

The emergence of new technologies and the growth of clean energy jobs means that the USW membership of the future may not look the same as it did 80 years ago, but its strength and solidarity will only grow.

“We will continue to work together,” he said. “We’ll support each other and ensure our union and our communities can keep growing and thriving for 80 more years, and another 80 years beyond that.” 

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