The AFL-CIO Executive Council mourns the passing of Tom Conway, international president of the United Steelworkers (USW).
Conway was born in Newark, New Jersey, and grew up in a union household. He lived the union values he was taught at a young age throughout every stage of his remarkable career.
After serving in the U.S. Air Force for four years in the early 1970s as an aircraft mechanic, Conway’s career in the labor movement began when he went to work as a millwright at Bethlehem Steel’s Burns Harbor coke plant in northwest Indiana. He became a member of USW Local 6787 and later served as a griever, and was a member of the safety and contracting-out committees.
Conway joined the union’s international staff in 1987, and in 2005 he was elected as USW international vice president (administration). He became one of the union’s most accomplished contract negotiators in steel, aluminum, oil and other major industries, often directing bargaining during crises. In 2019, he was appointed international president.
As international president, he was a relentless advocate for fair trade, expanding manufacturing and securing domestic supply chains. He spearheaded innovative organizing initiatives and, under his leadership, the USW garnered some of the movement’s most significant organizing victories.
Conway spent his career building consensus through solidarity. He was relentless in pushing to expand manufacturing, create good jobs and rebuild communities devastated by decades of job loss and decline caused by unfair trade agreements.
Conway firmly believed that a diverse and inclusive labor movement is the driving force behind America’s success. He was committed to creating a future in which workers thrive in every industry and every corner of our nation, and under his leadership the USW welcomed a wide variety of new members into its ranks.
As a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, Conway’s sage guidance helped set us on the path toward building a wide-reaching, modern labor movement that empowers working people and invests in young workers who will be the next generation of union members.
Tom Conway was a friend, mentor and leader whose influence on the labor movement extended far beyond his own union. His legacy will forever remain—and we will continue to learn from his life in service to working people.