Emotional honor for fallen brother at D10 conference

Kenny Stitt would have turned 34 years old today. But almost exactly a year ago, the member of USW Local 1016 had his life taken in a tragic accident while working at NLMK in Farrell, Pa.  

Instead of celebrating his birthday, his local was honored today at the District 10 conference with the USW’s Karen Silkwood Award for the work they did to rally around Stitt’s family and to work with our Health, Safety and Environment and Emergency Response Team departments to push for accountability and represent the Stitt family in investigations surrounding our brother’s death on the job.

“It’s still a very emotional time,” said District 10 Director Bernie Hall. “Kenny left behind a very young wife and two young children with an uncertain future. That day, the day of the accident, the local made it known that that family will never be alone. These guys really represent the best of us. This represents what our union is all about.”

Members of the local, led by Next Gen coordinator Colton Smith, have never left the Stitt family’s side. At the time of his death, Stitt’s wife Kelsey was 28 with a 2-year-old and newborn baby. The union has raised over $110,000 and has plans to establish a scholarship fund for Stitt’s children. 

“Today is actually his birthday. He’d be 34 today,” an emotional Smith said while accepting the award. “I really can’t think our district, the International enough. The day of the accident, I called my staff rep, ERT, Health and Safety, Bernie Hall at 3 o’clock in the morning and they were there by 7 a.m. to have meetings with the company and to support us. I cannot talk enough about the support we got from our union.”

“Today is actually Ken's birthday. So I'm having an extra hard time,” Kelsey Stitt said. “The union has been amazing. They have done anything they could do since the beginning. They tell me all the time, ‘if you need ANYTHING, anything at all, just let us know.’”

Mrs. Stitt runs a Facebook page dedicated to her husband’s memory, Love Like Kenny.

Hall announced that all proceeds from the conference 50-50 raffles would be donated to the Stitt scholarship fund. 

The USW Karen Silkwood Award is given to local unions for union building and solidarity through health, safety and environment activism. It is named for our union sister who died under mysterious circumstances while she was on her way to deliver papers exposing serious safety problems at a nuclear fuels plant. 

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