(Correction: This story has been updated to accurately reflect former UAW President Rory Gamble’s decision to resign.)
Ray Curry, the current president of the United Auto Workers union, announced plans to run for the job in what will be the first election in the union’s history where members will vote directly for the UAW’s top officers and seats on the UAW’s executive board.
The direct election of the top UAW officers for the first time comes on the heels of a referendum in which nearly two-thirds of the union’s members voted to approve a change in the UAW’s process, setting up the selection of top officers by direct vote rather than by delegates to a quadrennial constitutional convention.
The referendum was the result of consent decree between the union and the U.S. Department of Justice to settle a racketeering lawsuit brought on corruption in the union’s upper ranks, two of Curry’s immediate predecessors’ Dennis Williams and Gary Jones, serve prison term for their role in the scandal.
Curry to test new election system
This will be Curry’s first time running for the top job. He became UAW president July 1, 2021, after he was selected by the UAW’s executive board to fill out the remainder of Rory Gamble’s term after he resigned early.
Curry had been elected UAW Secretary-Treasurer, the union’s second highest office, at the UAW convention in 2018. Before that, he was director of UAW Region 8 in the Southeastern United States.
Rules for the 2022 election have not yet been finalized by the court-appointed monitor responsible for the conduct of the election. The election will be held after the UAW convention in July.
However, Curry indicated he will run as part of slate assembled by the “Administration Caucus.” The caucus has controlled the UAW’s executive board, internal politics and administrative apparatus for the past 80 years and was badly tarnished by the scandal, which sent a dozen UAW officers and officials to jail.
Gamble and Curry said they have instituted reforms to address the issues inside the union that led to the scandal.
Balance of slate shows influence of UAW establishment
Besides Curry, Frank Stuglin, the union’s current Secretary-Treasurer, will run for secretary-treasurer on the Administration Caucus slate. Chuck Browning, the vice president who led the UAW negotiating team in a major strike at John Deere last fall, is running for one of the three vice president spots authorized by the constitution.
The old guard also tapped several UAW members now serving in appointed positions to run for office. Tim Bressler, the union’s current chief of staff who worked for Stellantis before joining the union staff, and Brian Czape, a top assistant in the union’s GM department, and a former GM employee, have gotten the caucuses endorsement for the two remaining vice president positions.
Mike Miller, currently a union representative and staffer on the West Coast, has been endorsed to run for director of Region 6 Director, which covers the western part of the U.S. including California.
The administration caucus also has endorsed incumbent regional directors in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana for re-election, including James Harris in Region 1, Laura Dickerson in Region 1A Director, Steve Dawes in Region 1D Director and Wayne Blanchard for Region 2B Director. Be The incumbent director of UAW Region 9A Beverley Brakeman also was endorsed by caucus.
Three union staff members currently serving as assistant directors, Brad Dutcher in Region 4, Tim Smith in Region 8 Director and Lauren Farrell in Region 9 Director were endorsed by the caucus to serve as regional directors and members of the executive board.