Lynn Williams

Editor's Note: is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of influential labour activist Lynn Williams. Williams died on May 4, 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 is 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.

More about Lynn Williams can be found in his memoir, One Day Longer.

Lynn Williams’s life and career are progressive activism in action. The United Steelworkers union is proud to partner with to name the Activist Toolkit in his honour.


Lynn Williams demeure l’un des dirigeants syndicaux nord-américains les plus influents du vingtième siècle. Il a été le premier Canadien à devenir président international du Syndicat des Métallos. À ce poste, Lynn a fait preuve d’un leadership novateur en matière de négociation collective et il a joué un rôle déterminant dans le réajustement structurel de l’industrie nord‑américaine de l’acier au cours de sa plus turbulente période, les années 80 et 90.

Même à titre de dirigeant au sein du mouvement ouvrier, et maintenant durant sa retraite, Lynn demeure un militant et un recruteur, impatient à la lueur d’une campagne optimisée par le regroupement de travailleurs désirant changer leur propre vie.

Au début de sa carrière à la fin des années 40, Lynn a été attiré par le militantisme du mouvement ouvrier : «J’avais comme principales ambitions de me joindre au mouvement ouvrier, d’y participer et d'être un militant… Je voulais tout simplement contribuer à bâtir… J’étais envahi par l’idée de faire partie du mouvement ouvrier, de recruter des gens, d’aider à changer leur vie. C’est ce que faisait le mouvement ouvrier partout dans le monde à cette époque. La simple idée d’en faire partie surpassait mes aspirations ou mon imagination.»

Lynn Williams est le président international émérite du Syndicat des Métallos; il a occupé ce poste de 1983 à 1993. Au cours de sa présidence, il a encadré l’établissement de l’Organisation des retraités des Métallos (ORME), afin de veiller à ce que les Métallos retraités maintiennent des liens entre eux et avec leur syndicat, et qu’ils exploitent leur énergie pour l’action législative et politique.

La vie et la carrière de Lynn Williams, c’est le militantisme progressiste à l’œuvre. Le Syndicat des Métallos est fier de s’associer avec pour nommer la Trousse d’outils pour militants en son honneur.

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