PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Tom Conway, international president of the United Steelworkers union, has died at 71.
Conway was elected to the role in 2019.
"From his earliest time making steel to his steady hand leading us through the darkest days of the pandemic, Tom followed two simple guiding principles: the dignity of work and the power of working people," said David R. McCall, the USW's International Vice President of Administration. "Tom was never afraid of a fight, and thanks to his ingenuity and determination, generations of workers can enjoy better jobs and brighter futures."
Conway became an activist in USW Local 6787 in 1978 when he went to work at the Burns Harbor Works of Bethlehem Steel. He joined the union's International staff in 1987 and was elected as USW International Vice President in 2005, per a press release given by the union on Monday.
"Solidarity wasn't just a word to Tom; it was a way of life," said USW International Secretary-Treasurer John Shinn. "He understood that by working together, we will balance the scales against greedy corporations and the billionaire class."
"We will all miss Tom's passion, his integrity, his gift for strategy and not least of all, his sense of humor," said McCall. "His time as USW president was too short, but it's clear he will leave an indelible impact on our union and beyond."
President Biden also offered his condolences on Conway's passing.
"With Tom Conway's passing, American workers have lost an extraordinary champion, and I've lost a great friend.
When I was running for President in 2020, Tom rode the train with me from Ohio to Pittsburgh, a city built by American steelworkers like those he spent his life fighting for. We talked on that train ride, as we did more times than I can count over the years, about what we could do together to make a real difference in the lives of steelworkers and union workers all over the country.
Tom was someone I confided in. He had my absolute trust. I knew that if I was doing a good job, he'd tell me – and if I needed to do better, he'd tell me that, too. And no one knew more about the challenges that workers face. He knew the politics. He knew the ins and outs of policy. And he never lost sight of his values – dignity, respect, fairness, equality.
As president of the United Steelworkers, Tom got up every day and fought to protect workers' wages, pensions, and safety, and to make sure working people got a fair shot at a middle-class life. Because he grew up in a union household, he knew exactly what unions mean to workers and everyone who depends on them. And he put every ounce of his energy and intellect toward making sure American workers got the best possible deal, every time."
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