UAW Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Williams has officially been nominated to take over the union from President Bob King, whose term is set to end in June. The nomination of Williams is big for a number of reasons, not least of which is because the 60-year-old has never actually worked in an automotive factory. Instead, he got his start with Case, building tractors, and joined the union in 1977.
According to Automotive News, Williams' appeal rests in his record as a regional director and in his ability to bargain. He also played a major role in President Barack Obama's Iowa caucus victory in 2008, giving him administration links that are hard to ignore.
The UAW has faced a number of issues relating to its overall membership and its ability to unionize foreign factories in the southern US, and it's believed that Williams, who has played a major role in talks at both the Volkswagen facility in Chattanooga, TN, and at the Nissan plant in Canton, MS, could be the man that can sort those issues out. The UAW has faced a 31-percent drop in membership since 2005, a number it's keen to reverse.
"[Williams'] experience with the transplants will be critical for where the UAW would like to go," Professor Harley Shaiken, a labor expert for the University of California-Berkeley told The Detroit News.
If Williams gets the nod - and the UAW has elected every presidential candidate chosen by an administrative caucus since the 1940s - it's likely he'll continue the conflict-free tactics favored by his predecessor. In an interview with Automotive News, Shaiken said, "He's worked closely with Bob King. I don't think there will be a change of direction."