Video: Steelworker leader honored in Chicago

Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers union came to Chicago this week to receive a Visionary Leader Award presented to him by Arise Chicago. Arise Chicago is an important coalition in Chicago that “seeks to build partnerships between faith communities and workers to fight workplace injustice.”


Leo Gerard Arise Chicago from Scott Marshall on Vimeo.

Gerard gave a rousing keynote speech that was both a celebration of the election results and a call to action. He described the transformation his union is going through to respond to the globalization of capital. He also described how the union is changing to help organize non-traditional workers. He noted the steelworkers union’s successful campaign to build a car wash workers local in Los Angeles.

Gerard put great stress on unions continuing to evolve more into movements for social and economic change. He said unions have to fight for all workers and their families. And he stressed the need to hit the ground running in the aftermath of the elections. To roaring applause he called for building even bigger coalitions of progressive organizations to resist any attempt to “balance the budget on the backs of workers.”


Scott Marshall
Scott Marshall

Scott Marshall is a vice chair of the Communist Party and chair of its Labor Commission. Scott grew up in Virginia where he first became active in the civil rights movement in high school, working on voter registration and anti-Klan projects in rural Southern Virginia and Tennessee. He was also active against the war in Vietnam.

Scott has been a life long trade unionist and was active in rank and file reform movements in the Teamsters, Machinists and Steelworkers unions in the 1970s and '80s. He was co-chair of the Save Our Jobs committee of USWA local 1834 at Pullman Standard in Chicago and active in nationwide organizing against plant shutdowns and layoffs. He was a founder of the unemployed organization Jobs or Income Now (Join), in Chicago, and the National Congress of Unemployed Organizations in the 1980s.

Scott has worked for the Communist Party since 1987 when he became the district organizer for the party in Illinois, a post he held until he was elected chair of the National Labor Commission in 1997. Scott remains active in SOAR (Steelworkers Active Organized Retirees). He lives in Chicago.