Canadian labour activist Leo Gerard recently retired after 18 years as international president of the United Steel Workers (USW) – the largest industrial union in North America. The onetime smelter worker devoted his career to battling the wealth gap.
Mr. Gerard faced numerous headwinds as a labour leader. He has grappled with declining rates of union membership. He has taken on leaders of both U.S. political parties, whose free-trade orthodoxy collided with his members’ concerns about imports of steel and other products. And he has struggled with members of his own union who have little in common culturally with U.S. President Donald Trump, but are nonetheless drawn to the Manhattan tycoon because of his populist approach and his nationalistic rhetoric.
The discord roiled Mr. Gerard’s union and placed him in a difficult political position. He argued just after the Trump triumph that the new President was elected “by stealing our agenda.” Continue Reading →