Veteran USW boss speaks of growing up in Lively, his long career (including dancing with Michelle Obama) and his lasting impressions of a historic strike in Sudbury
After a career in which he rubbed shoulders with world leaders – including U.S. presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama – Steelworkers International president Leo Gerard said he’s retiring to his hometown of Sudbury. He said he still has a home and a camp here, despite working out of Pittsburgh.
“My kids and my grandkids are getting old,” said Gerard in a recent interview with Sudbury.com following the announcement last month he’s retiring as of mid-July. “I’ve got a camp on Nepewassi. I didn’t put my boat in for three years.”
The 72-year-old Gerard, who’s served the Steelworkers for more than 50 years, has been the Steelworkers International president since 2001. His successor is Tom Conway, who has served alongside Gerard as Steelworkers International vice-president.
“I think that we’ve got a really good team that was ready to step up if I either dropped dead or left,” said Gerard. “I think that it was a good time for me to go, and we’re having a smooth transition.”
Gerard’s dad, Wilfred Gerard, was a miner and one of the organizers of the Mine Mill union. One of Gerard’s first memories of his father is helping him hand out union handbills to miners at shift end.