·  2021 Holiday Message

Pride, hope and optimism this holiday season

Dear Steelworkers,

This holiday season, as I reflect on my pending retirement as USW National Director, I am more proud than ever of our collective efforts to advance workers’ rights and build a better society.

Over the last two years, as the pandemic wreaked havoc on countless families across our country, Steelworkers and our progressive allies advocated fiercely – and successfully – for stronger government assistance programs for millions of workers, their communities and local businesses.

Within our union, USW activists and members stepped up to fight for stronger workplace protections and supports for workers who have kept our economy and communities running throughout the pandemic, particularly those in front-line and essential jobs. In some cases our local unions and members mobilized to purchase and even manufacture much-needed personal protective equipment – not only for their fellow Steelworkers but also for at-risk employees in other workplaces.

Unfortunately, we continue to be confronted by the pandemic and the reality that its economic and social impacts will linger for a long time. COVID cases remain high and we must continue to be vigilant. However, we have a highly vaccinated population, and now that children as young as five can get vaccinated, there is reason to hope we will get through the winter without a surge in serious cases.

Across Canada and around the world, through the Steelworkers Humanity Fund and our domestic and global alliances, USW members also have stepped up like never before to provide emergency assistance to workers, families and communities hit hard by poverty, hunger and natural disasters. This has included desperately needed support to thousands of people in Western Canada, including our members, who have been devastated by catastrophic flooding this fall, and prior to that massive wildfires.

These disasters bring further light to the urgent work we must do to combat the climate crisis and to build a new, sustainable economy that puts workers first and that is based on fair trade, investments in good jobs, and racial and social justice. No organization is more committed to this goal than our international union. It is a commitment that Steelworkers demonstrate each day in our workplaces, our communities, our legislatures and through our solidarity and global alliances with labour and social justice advocates around the world.

Throughout my five-decade career as a Steelworker, beginning as a teenaged-steel-mill employee in my hometown of Regina, I have understood that working people have power when we join together for a common cause. Solidarity is why we are a strong union in Canada and the United States and it is the foundation of trade unionism around the world.

Today, I believe Steelworker solidarity with the working class – in our country and beyond – has never been stronger, or more evident. And as I prepare for retirement in the new year, I am more hopeful and optimistic than ever that the USW’s legacy will be strengthened by our members and a renewed leadership within our union.

Our union is well-positioned to take on the challenges ahead under the leadership of National Director-elect Marty Warren.

Steelworkers, it has been a privilege and the honour of a lifetime to have served and worked with you as National Director for the last 17 years. I wish you and your loved ones a safe, happy and peaceful holiday season and all the best in 2022.

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
USW National Director

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