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On the passing of Lynn Williams

It was with great sadness that the board and staff of the Broadbent Institute learned of the passing of Lynn Williams, one of the most influential North American trade leaders of his generation. The Canadian and international labour movements lost one of their giants on May 4th.

Lynn was a lifelong Steelworker whose career began in 1947 at Toronto's USWA Local 2900 and included 11 years' service as the United Steelworkers' International President. With deep roots in both the Canadian and American labour movements, Lynn was notably the first person to serve on the executives of both the Canadian Labour Congress and the American Federation of Labour.

Lynn was one of those superb union leaders who had a profound and equal commitment to both the union and progressive politics. He was the ideal social democrat, and an inspiration to many, including to our Chair, Ed Broadbent, during his early years of political life.

As USW International President, he was on the front lines of the fight against the austerity policies of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. And at a time of structural upheaval in the steel industry, like many other manufacturing sectors at the time, Williams was a steady hand during a time of great turbulence.

Following his retirement, Lynn continued to be involved in the union movement, serving on the executive of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR), an organization that he himself helped create. In 2005, his life of service to the labour movement was commemorated by his induction into the Order of Canada.

We have no doubt that Lynn's legacy will live on in a labour movement that is committed both to a renewed, robust focus on challenging inequality in the workplace and mobilizing in support of those working to build more equal communities.