United Steelworkers National Director Announces Retirement

TORONTO, May 4, 2021 – Longtime United Steelworkers union (USW) National Director for Canada Ken Neumann announced today he will not seek re-election in the union’s international elections this fall.

All USW members in good standing across Canada and the United States cast ballots in the union’s international elections, which will take place in November 2021. However, only Canadian members of the union are eligible to vote for the position of USW National Director for Canada. Neumann will retire at the end of his current term on March 1, 2022.

“I am very proud of the work we have been able to accomplish as Steelworkers – we have improved the work lives, safety and well-being of hundreds of thousands of workers,” said Neumann. “The very reason I joined the union all those years ago remains crucial to this day – the right to safe workplaces, a decent wage, freedom from discrimination and being treated with fairness and respect. Unions are as vital a tool for working people as ever before.”

Neumann has been instrumental in building and diversifying the USW’s membership across Canada, facilitating mergers and investing in organizing efforts to ensure that the union has continued to grow. Neumann has led mergers with the Industrial, Wood and Allied Workers of Canada in 2004 and the Telecommunications Workers Union in 2014.

Neumann has also been a lifelong advocate for all workers’ health and safety across Canada. Under Ken’s leadership, the union pushed hard for the Westray Law, passed in 2004, which allows for criminal prosecution of employers that harm workers. The union continues to campaign to enforce the law and send negligent employers to jail.

Neumann has had a special commitment to fight for the dignity and independence of injured and disabled workers, serving as co-chair of the National Institute for Disability Management and Research and helping to develop the Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences.

Born and raised in rural Saskatchewan, Neumann joined USW Local 5890 in Regina, Sask., as a teenager working at Ipsco, now called Evraz. His leadership later flourished within USW Local 4728 in Regina, where he was elected local president.

Neumann served as an instructor, organizer and president of the USW Regina Area Council before joining the union’s international staff in 1977. In 1989, he was elected USW District 3 Director, a position he held until 2004, when he was elected Canadian National Director.

True to his roots in Tommy Douglas’ Saskatchewan, Neumann’s career has been fueled by a passion for the social democratic principles of equality, inclusion and justice for working people. Under Neumann’s leadership, the union in English Canada has been an unwavering partner of Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP), helping to elect several governments in Western and Atlantic Canada, and working with generations of NDP leaders on behalf of Canadian workers. A true national leader, Neumann worked hand in hand with the union’s Quebec leadership to ensure that “Les Métallos” has remained the strongest private-sector union in Quebec.

Throughout his USW career, Neumann has also been a passionate advocate for international unionism and global worker solidarity. Neumann’s commitment to global union solidarity led to the groundbreaking, successful global campaign in support of 800 members locked out by Rio Tinto in 2012 at the aluminum smelter in Alma, Quebec. He has taken on a global leadership role in the trade union movement, exemplified by his steadfast support for Mexican trade union leader Napoleon Gomez, his presidency of the groundbreaking Steelworkers Humanity Fund and his longtime role on the executive of the global union federation IndustriALL.


For further information:

Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951
Shannon Devine, USW Communications, 416-894-7118 (cell), sdevine@usw.ca

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