Retired USW President Gerard Receives Highest Canadian Honor

Contact: R.J. Hufnagel, 412-562-2450,

Leo W. Gerard, the product of a hardscrabble northern Ontario mining town who went on to serve for 18 years as international president of the United Steelworkers union (USW), today received Canada’s highest civilian honor, Companion of the Order of Canada.

The office of Governor General Mary Simon, who bestows the Order of Canada, announced Gerard’s appointment on Friday, June 30. The Governor General bestowed the award in recognition of  Gerard’s “vast and influential work in labour advocacy, notably as the seventh International President of the United Steelworkers union,” the announcement said.

Companion of the Order of Canada is awarded for “outstanding achievement and merit of the highest degree, especially in service to Canada or to humanity at large.”

“I am honored and overwhelmed to be appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada,” said Gerard, 76, who retired in 2019.

“I want to acknowledge the undeniable fact that this tremendous honor deserves to be shared by so many others,” he said, “from my family to the members of my great union, to the countless other labor, social justice and political activists whom I was privileged to work alongside for five decades.”

Tom Conway, Gerard’s successor as USW international president, praised his longtime colleague for the dedication and tenacity he displayed throughout his career as a labor leader.

“For the past two decades, nobody has spoken with more strength and conviction on behalf of working people in the United States and Canada than Leo Gerard,” Conway said. “Our union was fortunate to have him leading the way for us for many years, and he richly deserves this tremendous honor.”

Marty Warren, the USW’s national director for Canada, said Gerard’s impact on the cause of workers was “indisputable.”

“Leo Gerard’s life mission has been to improve the working and living standards of workers in Canada, the United States and around the world,” Warren said.

The USW represents 850,000 workers employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.

Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Jess Kamm at 412-562-2446

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor R.J. Hufnagel

For industry specific inquiries,
Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
Communications Department
60 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222