Sean Fein ousted incumbent Ray Curry

Supporters wave banners during a speech at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 5, 2012, on the second day of the Democratic National Convention (DNC).

Mladin Antonov | AFP | Getty Images

DETROIT. Members of the United Auto Workers toppled their president in the union’s first direct election, ushering in a new era for a prominent organized labor group ahead of talks later this year with Detroit automakers.

Sean Fein, a member of the UAW Members United reform group and a local leader, will be the new union leader. stellantis parts factory in Indiana. In the second round of the election, he beat out incumbent Ray Curry, who was named president by union leaders in 2021, with hundreds of votes.

Fein, in a statement on Saturday, thanked UAW members who voted in the election. He also hailed the election results as a historic change in course for the union, which he said would take a “more aggressive stance” towards their employers.

“This election was not just a race between two candidates, it was a referendum on the direction of the UAW. For too long, the UAW has been controlled by management with a top-down philosophy of company unions that were unwilling to oppose management. , and as a result, we have seen nothing but concessions, corruption and plant closures,” Fein said.

Curry, who has previously protested the narrow election results, said in a statement that Fein will be sworn in on Sunday and that Curry is “committed to ensuring that this transition goes smoothly and without hiccups.”

“I want to express my deep gratitude to all UAW staff, clerical support, leaders and, above all, active and former members of our union for many years of support and solidarity. It has been my honor to serve our great union. “, Curry said.

More than 141,500 ballots were cast in the runoff election, which also included two other board positions, up 33% from last year’s direct election, in which no presidential candidate received 50% or more. votes.

The election was monitored by a federal observer who did not immediately confirm the results. The results of the elections were delayed for several weeks due to the second round of the elections, as well as due to the careful final counting of the votes.

Sean Fein, the UAW presidential candidate, is running in the second round with incumbent Ray Curry for the union’s top job.

Jim West for UAW Members United

Fein’s election exacerbates the biggest leadership shift in the UAW in decades, as the majority on the union’s International Executive Board will be made up of new directors who are not members of the “Administrative Group” that has controlled the union for more than 70 years.

Fein and other members of his leadership stuck to the promise: “No corruption. No concessions. No levels.” The latter is a reference to the tiered pay system implemented by automakers during recent talks, which participants asked to be removed.

The shuffle follows a years-long federal investigation that uncovered systemic corruption involving bribery, embezzlement and other crimes among UAW senior officials.

As part of the investigation, thirteen UAW officials were convicted, including two former presidents. As part of an agreement with the union, a federal observer was appointed in late 2020 to oversee the union, and the organization held direct elections in which every member has the right to vote, abandoning the weighted delegation process.

For investors, UAW talks with Detroit automakers tend to be a short-term headwind every four years, pushing up costs. But this year’s talks are expected to be some of the most contentious and important in recent memory.

Fein said the union will push for increased benefits for members, advocating the return of the cost of living adjustment, or COLA, as well as increases and job security.

The change at the UAW comes amid a broader organized labor movement across the country, a union president and an industry shift to all-electric vehicles.

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