An article in the Detroit News presents members as most worried about the two-tier wage structure enacted after UAW givebacks necessitated by the financial crisis. Union folks say that having veteran floor workers make up to $28 dollars per hour while newer workers make around half that or, at most, $19 per hour, has "caused a major riff among union members." Another, perhaps more pressing, issue is the state of the union itself: Williams might want to begin his four-year term focused on growing a membership that has declined 31 percent in nine years and trying to, as one UAW delegate said, "educate people about its benefits."
All of those missions would fit in with the skills that led to his nomination. The man who worked for Case and has never worked in an auto factory is noted for excellent bargaining skills, his "record as a regional director" and his supposed connections to the current presidential administration. Having worked at the national level in the UAW for more than 25 years and closely with Bob King for the last four, no one expects a sudden change of direction from the leadership, but everyone will be looking to see what Williams can do that King wasn't able to.
There's a press release below from the UAW with more details on the election.
6-4-2014 -- UAW delegates at the 36th Constitutional Convention celebrated their solidarity today when they elected officers to lead the union for the next four years.
Dennis Williams, the UAW's secretary-treasurer, won 3,215 votes with 49 votes going to challenger Gary Walkowicz, UAW Local 600 bargaining committeeperson, as the union's next president. Gary Casteel, director of UAW Region 8, won the secretary-treasurer spot by acclamation.
Also, by acclamation, UAW vice presidents Cindy Estrada and Jimmy Settles won re-election, and Region 1C Director Norwood Jewell was elected for his first term as vice president.
Also, candidate Mike Maddox of UAW Local 1649 won election to UAW Trustees.
In nominating the officers, delegates had high praise for their candidates. Local 145 President Joe Morel nominated Williams for president. "Dennis has always been a champion of social justice, not just here at home but abroad as well," said Morel. "He has never forgotten where he came from and holds the utmost respect for UAW members."
Casteel's nomination for UAW secretary-treasurer was delivered by Tim Chance of Local 737. "Gary has demonstrated dynamic leadership skills during his 12 years as director of Region 8. He is a man of integrity and strength, with a passion for achieving social and economic parity for all who have worked hard in this country to provide for their families and to live their lives with dignity," said Chance.
Local 600 President Bernie Ricke nominated Estrada for a vice president position, saying her "fighting spirit and humanity" are key to her leadership and are what inspires everyone around her. "I am proud to be her partner in the fight for social justice within our neighborhood of southwest Detroit," said Ricke.
Scott Estridge, chairman of Local 862, nominated Settles for a vice presidency "... because of his long history with the UAW and his integrity, courage and strength. He has earned the respect of the company and the union leadership," said Estridge.
Jewell's vice presidential nomination was delivered by Local 659 President Reggie Smith. "Norwood has a long history of leadership with the UAW including as director of Region 1C, a region which was produced great leaders that have risen in this International UAW."