USW Names Prescott as Union’s Director for Western U.S. States

Contact: R.J. Hufnagel, rhufnagel@usw.org, 412-562-2450

The United Steelworkers (USW) Executive Board today announced the appointment of Gaylan Z. Prescott to replace the late Robert LaVenture as director of the USW’s District 12.

A longtime union activist and leader, Prescott had served as the assistant to Director LaVenture since January 2018. LaVenture passed away suddenly on Nov. 13 at the age of 68.

After graduating from high school in his hometown of Kelso, Wash., Prescott earned his EMT certification and spent several years working alongside migrant farmers on a hop and grape ranch.

“I received a true education in the importance of hard work,” Prescott said. 

He then followed in his father’s footsteps, working for nearly 20 years at the former Reynolds Metals Co. aluminum reduction plant in Longview, Wash.

Prescott began his career as a union leader and activist in 1986 when he became a shop steward in the pot rooms at the Reynolds plant. In 1990, he was elected to his first of three terms as president of the Longview Federated Aluminum Council, which represented about 700 workers who belonged to multiple unions throughout the facility.

In 1999, the USW hired Prescott to assist the 2,900 members who were locked out at five Kaiser Aluminum plants in Washington, Ohio and Louisiana, in what would become one of the longest and most contentious work stoppages in the union’s history.

The USW named Prescott a staff representative in December 1999, and named him to oversee District 12’s Sub-District 3 in 2012. The USW’s District 12 includes 11 western U.S. states. 

Prescott said that, though it is impossible to fill the shoes of his predecessor, he looks forward to working throughout the district to enhance direct member-to-member communication and engagement, and to expand educational opportunities for workers, particularly for women and younger members through the USW’s Women of Steel and Next Generation programs.

“Director LaVenture is irreplaceable,” Prescott said. “He was a dear friend, and I was honored that he trusted me to serve as his assistant. He had a real love for the membership, and his dedication to workers was unmatched.”

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, the service and public sectors and higher education. USW District 12 encompasses the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

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