United Auto Workers President Ray Curry.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) President Ray Curry and reform presidential candidate Shawn Fain will compete in a run-off election as neither they or none of five other candidates received a majority of the vote.
The candidates for the other races include Tim Bressler and Chuck Browning running for vice president and Lauren Farrell and Daniel Vicente for Region 9 director. Region 9 covers parts of western and central New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
The 2023 UAW International Officer Run-Off Election is following the results of the UAW Referendum held in the fall of 2021. The 2022 Election concluded on Friday, December 2.
Curry, a native of North Carolina and president of the UAW since June 28, 2021, ran for reelection after serving in that position for little under two years.
Since taking the office from then-UAW President Rory L. Gamble last year after his retirement, Curry told the Michigan Chronicle that his leadership is being defined by both massive change and the vital need of above-board improvements.
“It’s been an exciting time and a challenging time,” Curry previously said. “We’re excited about being able to keep a cutting edge of institutional knowledge that’s out there along with new marketplace knowledge…that will be beneficial as we continue to grow.”
He added that it’s time to bring the race “home” and conclude the process of the runoff election.
“We actually thought it would have been over with in November but unfortunately that did not happen,” Curry said, adding that it’s “very concerning” that the election overlapped the federal midterm elections. “As a result, we believe that there was a lot of information that got probably confused with candidate emailing, for midterms, and that distribution was occurring at the same time as our ballots were mailed to members. That impacted…that process.”
With the federal elections on November 8 and the UAW election on November 28, Curry said the “very low turnout” includes just 10 percent of votes returning.
The UAW has about 375,000 U.S. members.
“The other piece that we believe [was the cause of the low turnout] is we’re not overlapping the holiday season,” he said. “We believe that there will be greater turnout, as a result, this time.”
Reuters reported that previously, delegates used to elect UAW officers. In a 2021 vote that was necessary as a condition of a 2020 U.S. Justice Department deal to conclude a corruption investigation, members endorsed direct elections.
All UAW officers have come from a slate of administrative candidates for more than three decades.
Fain, a UAW member for over two decades, serves as an officer at a local in Indiana representing workers at a Stellantis casting plant and is an international representative, according to Reuters.
“This is our shot for true reform of the UAW and putting the power and control of our union back in the hands of the membership by electing leaders who will be held accountable by the membership,” Fain said in the article.
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,” he previously said.
Curry became a UAW member in July 1992, when he was hired as a truck assembler at Freightliner Trucks in Mount Holly, NC, (now Daimler Trucks, NA) after serving in the U.S. Army for three years on active duty and five years in the U.S. 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.
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) president and CEO previously 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.”
Whoever will be the next president has their work cut out for them as a number of issues have cropped up as of late with talks of recession, current inflation woes and other elements creating a complex financial space for workers looking for a break somewhere.
Curry said that this year there are multiple sectors of bargaining and he recognizes something has to change.
“[There are] a number of things that are out there: cost of living allowances,” he said. “Our members cannot rely on base wages that were actually developed during 2019 to 2023 agreements.… So that is a concerning piece as we move forward because the pandemic that we faced in 2020…brought a number of challenges that had never been dealt with in any workspace, and also never dealt with in our collective bargaining agreements.”
Curry added that the UAW’s overarching goal is to be more transparent.
“As we always have been and we want to be able to advocate for members and we want our members to be able to have true trust in the organization and believe that we are moving forward,” he said.
Ballots must be submitted before the end of February with an announcement made around early March.