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United Steelworkers International President Emeritus Lynn Williams passed away May 5 at the age of 89.

Brother Williams served as the head of the union from 1983 to 1994. During his tenure, the USW affiliated with the Maritime Trades.

The Springfield, Ontario, native began his career in the union in 1947, joining Local 2900 as he worked at the John Inglis Co. plant. He later became an organizer for the Canadian Congress of Labour before joining of the USW’s Canadian staff in 1956. He rose through the ranks, becoming the director of USW District 6 in 1973.

In 1977, Brother Williams was elected International Secretary for the USW. He was appointed International President in 1983 after the death of Lloyd McBride. He was elected to finish McBride’s term a year later, then won reelection to full terms in 1985 and 1989. He was the first Canadian to hold the position.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Williams “will be best remembered for his firm and unwavering advocacy for Steelworkers and their families during some very difficult times in the industry. He was passionate about public policy issues that affect working people.”