rabble.ca is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of influential labour activist Lynn Williams. Williams died on May 5, 2014. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and fellow workers during this difficult time.
Lynn Williams was one of the most influential North American union leaders of the twentieth century. He was the first Canadian to become International President of the United Steelworkers, where he brought innovative leadership in bargaining and a structural readjustment of the North American steel industry during its most turbulent period, the 1980s and 1990s.
Even as a leader in the labour movement, Lynn was an activist and an organizer at heart, eager for the zest of a campaign, powered by workers coming together to make a difference in their own lives.
At the start of his career in the late 1940s, Lynn was drawn to the activism of the labour movement: “My personal ambitions were focused on joining the labour movement, getting involved and being an activist… I simply wanted to be part of building… I was caught up in the idea of being part of the labour movement, of organizing people, of making a difference in people’s lives. That was what the labour movement was doing across the world in those years. Just the idea of being part of that was satisfying beyond belief or imagination.”
Lynn Williams was the United Steelworkers International President Emeritus, serving from 1983-93. During his presidency, he oversaw the establishment of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR), to keep retired Steelworkers connected together and to their union and harnessing their energy for legislative and political action. He received the Order of Canada in 2005 for his dedicated and life-long activism.
rabble.ca's activist toolkit was created in partnership with the United Steelworkers, and is named after Lynn Williams.
More about Lynn Williams can be found in his memoir, One Day Longer.