UAW president faces runoff election as reformers advance

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – United Auto Workers (UAW) President Ray Curry will face a runoff against reformist presidential candidate Shawn Fain, a court-appointed observer said on Monday, after no of the five candidates obtained a majority.

Fain, who as a Reform candidate wants the UAW to take a more confrontational approach to auto contract negotiations and push to end a two-tier pay system that pays new workers less, followed Curry narrowly in the election.

Six reformist candidates were elected to other leadership positions in the elections. The runoff election, which will also determine the race for a vice president and regional director, could see reformers claim a majority of seats on the 14-member UAW board of directors. Ballots are expected by February 28.

UAW officers were previously elected by a delegate system. Members approved direct elections in a 2021 referendum required as part of a 2020 US Justice Department settlement to resolve a corruption investigation.

For more than three decades, all UAW officers have been drawn from an administrative candidate list.

Curry has been president of the UAW since June 2021 and a member of the UAW since 1992.

Fain has been a member of the UAW for more than two decades, serving as an officer in an Indiana local representing workers at a Stellantis casting plant and as an international representative.

The UAW has about 375,000 American members.

“This is our chance to truly reform the UAW and put the power and control of our union back in the hands of the members by electing leaders who will be held accountable by the members,” Fain said.

Curry said the new board will be sworn in on Dec. 12. “Our members have spoken,” Curry said, saying he’s confident board members have “a vision for making our great union stronger.”

Labor contracts with General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis, Chrysler’s parent company, expire at the end of 2023, and this week workers will vote at a GM joint-venture battery cell manufacturing plant, LG Energy Ultium in Ohio to find out if they want to join the UAW.

Many UAW officers have pleaded guilty to embezzling millions of dollars for their personal gain, using the funds to purchase alcohol, cigars, golf outings and expensive hotel stays, including two former presidents.

FCA US, the North American operating subsidiary of Stellantis, pleaded guilty in 2021 to making $3.5 million in illegal payments to UAW agents and paid a $30 million fine.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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