Ken Neumann

Ken Neumann

National Director for Canada

The USW International Executive Board appointed Ken Neumann as National Director for Canada in 2004 following the retirement of Lawrence McBrearty. Ken was reconfirmed as National Director in the 2005, 2009, 2012 and 2014 international elections.

Born and raised in rural Saskatchewan, Ken was a teenager when he first joined the USW, at Local 5890 in Regina, Saskatchewan. Later, Ken's activism and leadership flourished within USW Local 4728, where he began as a steward and eventually was elected Local president. He was an instructor, organizer and then president of the USW Regina Area Council before being hired as a staff representative in 1977. Ken earned a personal reputation for strong service to USW members in Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

Ken was elected USW District 3 Director in 1989 and won every subsequent district election until his appointment as National Director in 2004. Ken increased the USW's involvement in the labour movement in Western Canada, expanded organizing activity and renewed the district's focus on political action, fighting for worker-friendly laws and helping elect several New Democratic Party provincial governments.

One of Ken's first achievements as National Director was his instrumental role in the USW merger with the Industrial, Wood and Allied Workers of Canada (IWA) in 2004. Under Ken's leadership the union has signed strategic alliances with the Alliance of Canadian Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA), the Canadian Region of Communications Workers of Canada, Environmental Defence, the Telecommunications Workers Union, Unite Here and the Ontario Taxi Workers Union.

Throughout Ken's life he has fought hard to make equality, justice and prosperity a reality in Canada. His commitment to political action culminated with Steelworkers playing key roles in the New Democratic Party's historic breakthrough in Canada. Strengthened by Ken's close relationship with Jack Layton, the union helped elect 103 NDP Members of Parliament – including two Steelworkers in the Orange Wave of 2011. As the Official Opposition in Parliament, the NDP is now Canada's “government-in-waiting.”

In 2010, Ken launched a National Organizing Project to give more Canadian workers a collective voice in their workplaces. The USW has organized over 16,000 new members in Canada since 2008.

Neumann holds key positions in numerous Canadian and international organizations, including the Canadian Steel Trades and Employment Congress (Co-chair), Steelworkers Humanity Fund (President), Steelworker Trusteed Benefit Plan (President), the International Metalworkers Federation and ICEM (Director), the USW Non-ferrous Industry Conference (Secretary), United Dominion Industries Conference (Chair) and the Canadian Labour Congress (General Vice-President).

One of Neumann’s passions is fighting for the dignity and independence of injured and disabled workers. He is co-chair of the National Institute for Disability Management and Research, and he helped develop Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences, the first university of its kind.

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