Two males who started their careers on manufacturing unit flooring are competing to guide the 373,000 members of the United Auto Staff, a union that helps set requirements for wages throughout the nation’s manufacturing sector.
Will probably be the first-ever direct election of a UAW president within the union’s 88-year historical past.
The election pits the 57-year-old incumbent, Ray Curry, who began his profession on the meeting line at a Freightliner truck plant in North Carolina, in opposition to Shawn Fain, 54, who started as an electrician at a Chrysler metallic casting plant in Kokomo, Indiana.
Curry and Fain had been the highest two finishers in a five-candidate race held in December for a four-year time period as UAW president. As a result of neither man received greater than 50% of the vote, they had been positioned in a runoff election, with poll counting to begin March 1. Separate runoff races are being held for 2 different UAW positions — a vp and a regional director.
Till this yr, the leaders of the UAW had all the time been chosen by delegates to a conference slightly than by rank-and-file union members. However within the aftermath of a bribery-and-embezzlement scandal involving union officers, members voted to carry a direct election this time.
Candidates who’ve positioned themselves in opposition to the established union management received six of 14 seats on the Worldwide Govt Board and will find yourself capturing as many as eight seats.
Beneath Curry’s management for the previous 19 months, the UAW has taken a extra aggressive stance in labor talks, having gone on strike in opposition to Volvo Vans, John Deere, the College of California and CNHI, a maker of agricultural and building tools.
In forthcoming contract negotiations, Curry and Fain have every mentioned they’d search to revive conventional pensions, which, starting in 2007, had been changed by a 401(okay)-style outlined contribution plan for brand new hires. Each additionally need cost-of-living and basic pay raises and an finish to differing tiers of wages and advantages for staff doing the identical jobs, relying on their size of service.
Right here’s the place the candidates stand on a number of the points, edited for size and readability:
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE, OR WOULD YOU DO, TO CHANGE THE UNION AFTER THE SCANDAL?
FAIN: Let’s take a look at the reform of this union. The Curry slate didn’t need each member to have a proper to vote on this election. They wish to hold the identical drained system the place the Worldwide Govt Board controls the conference, and so they management the election. We’ve been a one-party state for longer than I’ve been alive. A real reformist would need the membership to have a proper to vote within the election. These guys nonetheless ascribe to the company-union philosophy (the place firm and union are enterprise companions). The corporate regularly violates our agreements. There’s no motion taken to cease it. They don’t seem to be reformers.
CURRY: I got here off the meeting flooring. I’ve had a chance to serve on a workers in a 12-state area within the South. I carry a wealth of data and expertise, having served as secretary-treasurer, main reforms that began in 2019. I used to be the one who put in place the request for proposals with distributors for top-to-bottom opinions. We had been aware of the membership. We’ve provided coaching. We wish to have the members totally engaged. All these items are clear and can transfer us ahead. We’re not simply altering insurance policies and guidelines. We’re additionally listening to their voice and going to provide them a discussion board to have dialogue with the management.
WHAT DO YOU WANT IN CONTRACT TALKS WITH DETROIT AUTOMAKERS?
CURRY: Members want to keep present provisions, however they need enhancements. These embody wage will increase. We’ve acquired to have shopping for energy that’s larger than 2019 in 2023. We’re additionally taking a look at reinstatement of cost-of-living allowance. We acquired that within the truck, protection and aerospace sectors. Our members are actually demanding it. In quite a few different sectors, we now have seen pension will increase again for energetic and retired. We’d additionally like to speak about those that are post-2007 (hiring date) within the auto sector who shouldn’t have a pension. They’ve acquired conventional 401(okay) and financial savings plans. Once we discuss tiers, there’s ranges of medical health insurance, ranges of retirement, post-retirement advantages that we consider should be degree for all workers.
FAIN: Return to chapter. The federal government principally mandated “these had been the cuts.” These weren’t to be perpetually. They had been for corporations to get again on their toes. The businesses acquired again, and so they’ve performed wonderful ever since. However our staff have been nonetheless going like this (motioning horizontally). When these two issues don’t go hand-in-hand, there’s an issue, and the employees are fed up. Ending tiers is a matter in all places in our union. Folks that have pensions. That don’t have post-retirement well being care. It’s taking good care of retirees who’ve been uncared for for the final 15 years. Our energetic staff. With the price of residing rising, we now have to do higher. Have a look at what ending pensions has performed. We used to set the usual.
WILL THERE BE MORE STRIKES IF YOU’RE ELECTED?
FAIN: That’s as much as the businesses. Our job is to combat for our members. It’s to not combat for the Worldwide Govt Board. It’s to organize our members for no matter motion we now have to take to guard job safety. Job safety comes first. Would we strike? Sure, we’d. However that’s going to be as much as the businesses in the event that they don’t deal with our staff pretty.
CURRY: I see that taking place when the members’ calls for aren’t being met. We’re going to be rational in our dialog. We’ll make the most of all of the assembly time as much as no matter contractual deadline that we now have. However when the members consider that the method isn’t shifting ahead of their greatest curiosity, I might be supportive of authorizing strikes.
STELLANTIS WANTS TO CLOSE THE BELVIDERE, ILLINOIS, PLANT. CAN IT BE SAVED?
CURRY: I wasn’t concerned early within the course of due to not having the project and never being president on the time. However when the announcement took place, we instantly began having conversations with the company. We additionally began elevating consciousness nationally. I had an opportunity to speak to (Stellantis CEO) Carlos Tavares. I alerted (President Joe Biden) that we had a product in a U.S. state, and the future-generation product for 2023 was to be in-built Mexico. We consider we’re making enterprise case why Belvidere survives. We’re going to maintain preventing.
FAIN: That’s the issue with our management: They’re too reactive as an alternative of being proactive in addressing this stuff up entrance. When you understand that three years in the past, and there’s product coming, the management ought to have taken motion to safe that work, and so they failed to take action. We’ve language in our contract that claims the businesses won’t spin off, break up off, promote or shut or idle any plant. And there’s solely a pair exceptions, that are an act of God, a extreme financial downturn. That’s not the case. A strike isn’t the one choice.
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