UAW President Ray Curry
After just over a year of leading the United Autoworkers Union (UAW), Ray Curry, a North Carolina native and president of the UAW (since June 28, 2021) is seeking re-election.
Since taking the helm from then-UAW President Rory L. Gamble last year after his retirement, Curry told the Michigan Chronicle that his tenure has been marked by great transformation and, simultaneously, much-needed continuity.
“It’s been an exciting time and a challenging time. I was previously elected in 2018 as the secretary, treasurer, or chief financial officer, and responsible for the reforms,” Curry said adding that under his helm, he’s continuing the work of transparency that was started during Gamble’s time as president, which he prioritizes, too, after scandals rocked the UAW previously with better checks and balances in place. “We’ve opened up a compliance department that’s soon to be filled. We’ve got a new training mechanism inside the organization. We’re now we’re not just training staff, we’re training staff and all clerical with having human resources and organizational development department. So, we’re excited about being able to keep a cutting edge of institutional knowledge that’s out there alone with new marketplace knowledge … that will be beneficial as we continue to grow.”
As UAW president, Curry continues his commitment to transparency and reform within the UAW. “Restoring member confidence in our union is a high priority. We will continue to work with the monitor to develop and implement more checks and balances for our union.”
Gamble told the Michigan Chronicle that he is endorsing Curry because of his experience.
“He cares about the organization and I have complete faith in his responsibilities and he will complete the job of reconstruction at the UAW to bring the union back to the … prominence it deserves,” Gamble said. “Ray believes that working families in this country deserve to have a strong voice in the workplace. … I believe he will do everything in his power to make sure that happens.”
The UAW’s 38th Constitutional Convention will take place in Detroit from July 25-28. The Convention starts the election nomination process and in the coming months, UAW members will vote on their next president via mail.
Curry became a UAW member in July 1992, when he was hired as a truck assembler at Freightliner Trucks in Mount Holly, North Carolina, (now Daimler Trucks, NA) after serving in the U.S. Army for three years on active duty and five years in the US Army Reserve. Shortly after joining UAW Local 5285, he became active in the local’s civil rights standing committee. “I have always believed that it is a duty to make change happen.
“My years on that standing committee gave me both a deep understanding of our great union as well as the awareness of what can happen when we work together,” according to his biography.
He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a B.S. in Business Administration / Finance. He holds an MBA degree from the University of Alabama.
Curry told the Michigan Chronicle that he sought to be engaged in community efforts in all of the leadership positions he has held, which helped him to “rise through the ranks” to where he is today.
“Whether in my home state of North Carolina or (when I) transferred to different roles and ultimately in Michigan I … understand the sacrifices of membership,” he said adding that he believes in the people he leads.
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) president and CEO told the Michigan Chronicle that he supports Curry who he’s known for several decades. The NNPA is the national trade association that represents African American newspapers and media companies.
“Ray Curry’s leadership at the United Auto Workers has been transformational and very uplifting for the cause of labor rights and civil rights,” the lifetime NAACP member said, adding that there is a strong tie between the NAACP and the labor union. “Historically, the UAW was one of the leading forces in labor that supported the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement.”
Chavis worked for Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) — a major player in the civil rights march on Washington – while also working for the Black press. He said that the UAW has been a firm proponent of the Black press, too, which continues today.
“During President Ray Curry’s tenure as president at the UAW he was a strong advocate and supporter of the Black Press for America, and on behalf of the NNPA that represents African American newspapers and media companies I just want to say categorically that Ray Curry (in our view) has been the best president in UAW history as he continues to create more and more opportunities for a diverse and inclusive workforce in the automotive industry.”
Hiram Jackson, Michigan Chronicle publisher and Real Times Media CEO, said that Curry (a 2022 Michigan Chronicle Man of the Year Award winner) is a tireless supporter of civil and human rights, and the military veteran is known for his servant leadership skills and for being instrumental in implementing broad financial ethics reforms.
“Curry’s dynamic work and talents in his position at the UAW never fail to inspire others to be tenacious in their journey. His passion and experience are why I also back him as being re-elected as president,” Jackson said. “He will continue to go above and beyond to get the job done.”
Curry said that from dealing with the auto crisis and recession to the evolving marketplace now – the UAW has stood firm in the face of calamity with a steadfast promise of helping their valued members and community.
“We’ve dealt with the food, fuel crisis of the ‘70s … and an evolution of vehicles change in our industry with regard to electric vehicles, transitioning from industrial, internal combustible engine vehicles, and the supplier and component parts that are tied to that,” he said adding that the biggest part of the growth opportunity under his leadership includes three Ps. “Protecting things for our past retirees, keeping the promise to our present members … and also the prospect of future members in growing every single location that we have across the country with another generation of auto workers. That piece is important.”
Curry said that those commitments complement his re-election platform, which is, “Building Our Tomorrow Today,” through prospective partners, organizations, or elected officials across the nation.
“We are also making sure that the right legislation, making sure that the right collective bargaining agreements and others are in place for our tomorrow, but we are building our tomorrow, in actual real-time today,” he said adding that his platform coincides with the UAW’s organizational values. “The whole goal is to build a new opportunity for another generation of auto workers. … It’s important for me that we continue to build and do the work that’s necessary. “
For more information visit uaw.org/uaw-constitutional-convention-2022-update/.