By Erwin Seba
LAS VEGAS -The head of the United Steelworkers union on Monday vowed to pursue employees in clean energy, electric cars and retail industries as it seeks to adapt to a changing economy and rebuild membership in old-line industries.
Thomas Conway, the leader of the USW, told an audience of about 3,500 union members and retirees at its constitutional convention it will train more organizers and appeal to traditional and new-industry workers.
“We’re going to be there – in offshore wind, electric vehicles, mining nickel and copper,” said Conway, whose speech to a packed conference room at the MGM Grand hotel was the USW’s equivalent of a presidential state of the union address.
“We’re going to bring our union to today’s industries and tomorrow’s,” said Conway.
He did not provide details on the additions to its organizing staff.
Conway said the Biden administration is committed to raising more families out of poverty and into the middle class. He stressed that union members working together helped bring change to U.S. and Canadian societies.
He tied the election of U.S. President Joe Biden and a Democrat-majority Congress to achieving the administration’s infrastructure bill that provided money for roads, bridges and transit systems.
“The president sees unions as a path back to rebuilding the middle class,” he said. The administration “is not just pandering to us out of sentiment, but it’s an economic policy.”
Ron Holdcraft, a union member from LaSalle, Illinois, who works for a cement manufacturer, praised the effort to expand the USW’s organizing ranks.
“Anytime you can expand the brotherhood and help people, it’s a good thing,” he said.
(Reporting by Erwin Seba in Las VegasEditing by Marguerita Choy and Deepa Babington)