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Challenger Shawn Fain wins close race to lead United Auto Workers union

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DETROIT — Challengers defeated the president of the United Auto Workers Union in a close election and vowed to take a more confrontational stance in negotiations with major automakers on Saturday.

A court-appointed monitor declared challenger Sean Fain the winner over incumbent Ray Curry.Fain’s candidate list gains control of a large union as workers reject most incumbents following bribery and embezzlement scandals

It was the first direct election of a 14-member international board for the union, which has 372,000 members, following a widespread scandal that imprisoned two former presidents. It was something.

Voting has been going on since March 1, and hundreds of votes were contested, so the outcome was uncertain until Saturday.

Curry filed a protest alleging election fraud and campaign finance violations.but he admitted Saturday, and Fain said he would be sworn in on Sunday.

Fain said union members clearly want the union to be more proactive in dealing with automakers.

“Today we notified the companies that the UAW in combat has returned,” Fain said in the video.

Fain vowed to end a two-tier contract that offered some workers lower wages and fewer benefits. He said the UAW opposes factory closures that result in the loss of union jobs.

“We have seen factory after factory shut down without any serious struggle from the unions,” he said. “In the last 20 years, he’s lost 40% of his active membership. That’s the end of it.”

Fain also promised to clean up the union.

Fain, 54, who is now the manager of the International Union of Detroit, received 69,459 votes, or 50.2%, while Curry received 68,976 votes, or 49.8%.

Earlier, Curry asked court-appointed overseer Neil Barofsky to hold another runoff vote due to allegations of wrongdoing, but Barofsky denied the request.

Fain’s UAW Members United slate currently occupies seven of the 14 seats on the Board, with one independent member supporting his slate. The Curry Solidarity Team slate has his six board members. Four of the five senior officers are from Fain’s slate, including the Treasury Secretary and his two of his three vice presidents.

The new leadership must quickly prepare for contentious contract negotiations with three Detroit automakers – Ford, General Motors and Stellantis – scheduled for this summer.

Many in the industry are expecting unions to strike against companies.

Fain has little time to prepare for the union’s negotiating convention, scheduled to begin Monday in Detroit.

In the past, contracts with the Detroit Three set the benchmark for manufacturing wages across the country. In a statement, Fain said he wanted to return to unions that set wage and benefit standards in other sectors of the economy.

Fain and his slate must deal with union members’ demands to recover concessions made when the automaker was facing financial difficulties that began in 2007. , ensure that everyone receives the same pay and benefits.

Automakers prefer annual profit-sharing checks to pay raises, allowing them to pay workers in good times and cut costs in bad times.

In his February draft of the Transition Plan, Fain wrote about the big changes coming in his first 30 days in office. Jobs will change, new expectations will be placed on workers, and some of them will leave, it said.

“At every step, everything we do must reinforce the message that there is a new sheriff in town,” Fain’s memo said.

The memo talks about a campaign to prepare workers to strike.

One of the new vice presidents, Mike Booth, said automakers are starting to claim they are in financial trouble as they have to fund the development of new electric vehicles. “We cannot develop electric vehicle products with the backing of UAW members,” he said.

A strike is likely as unions push to overturn Stellantis’ decision to organize a joint venture battery plant the two companies are building and begin closing the Belvidere, Illinois plant. Over the past two years under Curry’s leadership, the UAW has taken a more active stance in labor negotiations and has gone on strike against Volvo Trucks, John Deere, the University of California and CNHI, a maker of agricultural and construction equipment. rice field.

When asked about the new UAW leadership on Friday, Ford CEO Jim Farley said his company is on good terms with the union. “No matter who leads the UAW, we will have a great relationship and work hard to improve our industry. We welcome whoever leads the UAW,” he said.

Curry, who was not part of the scandal, was elected to the UAW’s top post in June 2021 by the executive committee.

A change of leadership took place after union members decided to vote directly for leadership for the first time in the union’s 87-year history. elected by delegates to the convention. The new list of officers was chosen by the current leadership and rarely faced serious opposition.

The direct vote came after 11 union officials and spouses of deceased workers, including two former presidents who were sentenced to prison terms, pleaded guilty to corruption investigations. submitted in the year.

To avoid a federal takeover, the unions agreed to reforms and Barovski was appointed to oversee the election of the UAW and executive committee.

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