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.”
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.”