Tuna Fishing is a Team Sport
West Virginia AFL-CIO President Gets a Taste of Offshore Fishing on Brotherhood Outdoors
by Kate Nation
As president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO and a longtime member of Laborers’ Local 1353, Josh Sword is accustomed to fighting for working men and women to have a voice and benefits in the workplace, and he understands the power of solidarity. In 2021, he experienced a new kind of battle when he hooked into his first tuna while offshore fishing with Brotherhood Outdoors, and teamwork came into play in a whole new way.
Sword began fishing at a young age and mainly targets bass in his home state of West Virginia. Traveling to Venice, Louisiana, and taking a two-hour boat ride to fish for tuna was something he never expected. Nor did he expect to watch a giant shark eat half of one of the tunas as they were trying to get it in the boat.
“Fighting a tuna is something I will never forget,” Sword said. “We caught several, but it was very hard work and required a team effort.”
The tunas were not going to give up without a fight, and USA’s Forrest Parker and USA member and retired NFL player Dan Skuta were along for the adventure and ready to tap in when Sword needed a break from the backbreaking effort.
“That’s the thing about tuna fishing,” Parker said, “everybody is in the action. It’s a team fish, no doubt.”
It was that same team spirit that landed Sword on a boat 100 miles off the Louisiana coast. He has supported the USA’s annual West Virginia AFL-CIO conservation dinner since the first event in 2014 and now serves at the dinner committee chairman. He has also supported several Work Boots on the Ground projects in the state—including the shooting range rehabilitation at the Pleasant Creek Wildlife Management Area in 2021—that resulted from those dinners.
In 2018, Sword was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and has undergone multiple surgeries and treatments. Now cancer free, he is happy to be alive, working hard every day for his union brothers and sisters and enjoying the great outdoors.
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Presented by ULLICO, Brotherhood Outdoors is also sponsored by the following unions, contractors and corporate partners: Carhartt; International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; National Electrical Contractors Association; and United Association/International Training Fund’s Veterans in Piping Program.