Now It's Up To UAW Members

The auto workers' union will directly elect its leadership this summer, after decades of not.

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The UAW, the union which represents blue-collar workers at General Motors’, Ford’s, and Stellantis’ American operations, has in recent years, been the subject of a corruption probe that has seen two former presidents convicted of federal charges.

Some thought the problem was, in part, that UAW leadership wasn’t directly elected by membership, though members voted last year to do just that going forward, following a deal with the feds. With new leadership slated to be elected at the UAW’s constitutional convention in July, a federal judge on Monday approved a plan for a “one member, one vote” system, according to the Detroit Free Press.

That could spell trouble for current UAW president Ray Curry, who was installed under the old system and who vocally opposed direct election of UAW leadership. Or it won’t; no one really knows how it will go, since the delegate-voting system was used for so long. In any case, the feds, who have also imposed a monitor, were taking a victory lap on Tuesday.


“We designed the Consent Decree so that the members of the UAW would be able to decide for themselves how they would choose their leaders going forward, rather than having the government impose one system or another,” United States Attorney Dawn Ison said in a statement. “Now that the members have spoken and chosen a system of direct elections, we will continue to work with the Monitor to ensure that the UAW is fully reformed, free of corruption and fraud, and that the union’s elections will be fair and in compliance with the will of the membership.”

UAW members voted overwhelmingly to change the way it elects its leadership, or 63.7 percent voting for direct elections and 36.3 percent voting to keep the old system. You’ll remember that even amidst the corruption probe, the UAW also pulled off a strike at GM, which was a success depending on how you read it. There’s ample reason to trust the members to make their own decisions, in other words, including the choice of UAW’s president, too.