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NextGen 2024

June 24, 2024
- Five people sitting on stage on black couches during a panel discussion. The moderator is sitting on the far left. A large screen behind the panelists shows the title of the panel, “The power of our collective contracts, campaigns, and changed lives.” The names of the panelists (Jess Rios Viner, Desirae Beatty, James Golden, James Kappas, Mickey “OB” O’Brien) are also displayed on the screen.

Empowering tomorrow’s leaders

In early March 2024, a vibrant gathering of over 1,300 young Steelworkers, including more than 100 Canadians, descended on Pittsburgh, Penn., for the USW International NextGen Conference.

Delegates engaged in a variety of activities, including caucus meetings, panels, workshops and community service work, all aimed at equipping new and young activists with knowledge and skills to further develop as trade unionists and leaders in the union and their communities. Particularly cherished were the informal hallway meetings between sessions, providing delegates with the opportunity to share experiences and learn from one another, in addition to networking with union leaders and labour activists.

The conference offered a diverse and comprehensive program catering to the needs of young unionists. Each day featured two panels, focusing on topics such as “Making the future: the next generation of organizing,” “The power of collective agreements,” and “Showing up for community.” Between panels, delegates could choose from a range of workshops led by experienced facilitators and activists, allowing
them to expand their knowledge and strengthen solidarity among members.

The International NextGen Conference concluded its eventful week in Pittsburgh in a most rewarding manner, designating the fourth and final day as a day of action and community service. Delegates from various districts volunteered across the city, contributing to local initiatives and expressing gratitude to the hosting community.

Young Canadian activists played a significant role in the conference, contributing to organizing and managing the day-to-day activities and events, sharing inspiring success stories and tales of resilience in overcoming workplace challenges, actively engaging and contributing to workshops as both attendees and facilitators and demonstrating a deep commitment to volunteering and supporting vulnerable communities during the community service day.

As the conference concluded, delegates departed with renewed motivation to apply their learning in their communities, committed to making a positive impact and empowering others.

View photos from the NextGen 2024 Conference: usw.ca/photos.

This article appeared in the Summer 2024 issue of USW@Work magazine.

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