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Bob King Elected UAW President

Show down at Ford Motor Coming?

by on Jun.16, 2010

Bob King, incoming UAW president, inherits a union that is less than a quarter of its size three decades ago.

A tired looking Bob King was overwhelmingly elected to succeed Ron Gettlefinger as president of the troubled union.

Gettlefinger retired after two terms, which saw the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler and an unprecedented  downsizing of union jobs.

King prevailed in a roll call vote against challenger Gary Walkowicz, 61, a Local 600 bargaining committee member at Ford Motor Co.’s Dearborn Truck Plant.

The 63-year-old King, has been a UAW vice president since 1998 and headed the UAW’s National Ford Department since 2006. He played a major role in both the UAW Ford 2007 National Agreement and the 2009 modifications to the agreement, which is now a source of contention among members.

Delegates also elected by acclamation UAW Region 4 Director Dennis Williams to the post of secretary-treasurer, the union’s number two post.  He succeeds retiring UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn.

Williams was elected director of UAW Region 4 at a special convention in 2001 and re-elected in 2002 and 2006 at the UAW Constitutional Conventions in Las Vegas. Region 4 includes Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Convention delegates re-elected by acclamation incumbent UAW vice presidents James Settles Jr., and General Holiefield, as well as new vice presidents Joe Ashton and Cindy Estrada. Ashton is director of UAW Region 9, which covers western and central New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Estrada is director of the union*s National Organizing Department. She becomes the union*s first Latina vice president.

Also by acclamation delegates elected UAW 863 President Phyllis Blust to serve a six-year term as an International trustee. She fills the position vacated by Tito Sanchez.

New UAW Leaders Facing Loss of Clout

“We’ve had our share of disappointments.”

by on Jun.14, 2010

“We’ve had our share of disappointments," acknowledged UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, as union leaders prepared to elect his successor.

The United Auto Workers Union will select new leaders this week as it holds its 35th Constitutional Convention in Detroit as it struggles with a sharp decline  in membership, a battered public image and fading clout at the bargaining table.

“It’s a union that has a glorious history,” said Mike Smith, chief archivist at the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University said Monday.  But one whose future is anything but certain.

What is clear is that the new leadership team will be trying to halt the steady erosion of both the union’s clout and the gains made its membership since the UAW was born out of the sit-down strikes that helped organize General Motors more than 70 years ago.

Ron Gettelfinger, the union’s outgoing president,  has faced some of the most serious challenges to confront the union since those early days.

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“We’ve had our share of disappointments and setbacks,” said Gettelfinger, but, he quickly added, “we have also had major victories. Workers at Tenneco have been on strike for over five years and we have three additional strikes under way. We saw the impact of downsizing and the pain associated with the Peterbilt, NUMMI and other closings,” Gettelfinger said.