May 5, 2014 7:03 pm

Lynn Williams, former Steelworkers president, passes away at 89

Lynn Williams has a street named after him in Toronto's Liberty Village.

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TORONTO – Influential labour leader Lynn Williams passed away in Toronto on Sunday at the age of 89.

Williams was the first Canadian elected as International President of the United Steelworkers (USW) union. He served from 1983 to 1994, during one of the unions’ most difficult times.

“Lynn Williams dedicated his entire career to improving the lives of ordinary working people, driven by an unrelenting passion for social justice,” Ken Neumann, the USW’s Canadian National Director, said in a statement.

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Williams joined the Steelworkers union during the 1940s when he worked for the John Inglis factory in Toronto.

For two decades he served in elected positions on the USW’s International Executive Board. These positions included Ontario Director and International Secretary.

Williams founded the Steelworkers’ Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR) while he was the USW International president. The idea behind SOAR was to harness the power and influence of union pensioners.

SOAR is now a force of labour, political and social justice activism in Canada and the U.S.

Andrea Horwath, Ontario leader of the NDP, tweeted her condolences Monday night, saying we all owe Williams “a huge debt of gratitude.”

In 2005, Williams was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.

The City of Toronto named a street after him in Liberty Village in 2007.

Williams’ memoir, One Day Longer, was released in 2011.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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