Meet the New Boss: Obama Buddy Elected President of the UAW

Posted by Tucker Nelson on Friday, June 6th, 2014 at 9:42 am - Permalink

Dennis Williams has been elected as the new president for the United Auto Workers (UAW). Williams, who previously served as the secretary-treasurer for the UAW, was elected June 4th at the union’s 36th Constitutional Convention in Detroit.

Williams has long been the favorite for this position, having been nominated by UAW leadership back in November of 2013. One other candidate was nominated for the president position, Gary Walkowicz of UAW Local 600, but he posed no challenge for Williams. Having received 98 percent or 3,215 delegate votes it is almost as if Williams ran unopposed.

It comes as no surprise that Williams became president. After the UAW failed to unionize the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee in February of this year, it had been rumored that then President Bob King effectively handed over day to day operations to Williams in the face of the Chattanooga defeat.

Former Region 8 director and overseer of the Chattanooga campaign, Gary Casteel was also elected to a new post and will now fill the shoes of Dennis Williams as secretary-treasurer.

The Detroit Free Press reported that Williams is now “…in charge of a union struggling to regain bargaining leverage, rebuild its finances and restore political clout.” It seems that the UAW may have their bases covered with Williams. As his last act as president King raised member dues for the first time in 47 years. The dues increase will bring in $45 million in additional revenue for the union.  

William’s resume is an indicator of the bargaining style the UAW will adopt under his leadership. William’s has had a long history of leading strikes. He once led a 5 year strike against the construction company Caterpillar, Williams has also said on record that he is “not afraid of confrontation.”

Then we get to the issue of political clout. Williams is not new to politics.  He not only served as an Obama organizer for the Iowa Caucus in 2008, he even considers Obama a friend. Williams was quoted in the Detroit Free Press in regards to Obama saying “We don’t talk every day. But I consider the president to be a friend…He is somebody who I got to know while he was in the Illinois Senate.”

So the UAW is now in the hands of a new, more aggressive, more political president. The union will no doubt reflect this personality.