New Captain Can Not Save Sinking Union

Posted by Tucker Nelson on Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 at 12:00 pm - Permalink

(Pictured is King on the left and Williams on the right)

Since the UAW failure in Chattanooga, it seems that current Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Williams has taken the reigns of the organization in advance of his formal coronation this June.

Williams has long been vetted for this position, even before the failure at Volkswagen. He has held the position as Secretary-Treasurer since 2010 and was chosen by the union’s Ruether Caucus to be the next UAW president in November of 2013.

What kind of man is Williams? In interviews Williams openly admits that he is “….not afraid of confrontation.” Colleagues of Williams at the UAW say that he “won’t necessarily be a motivational speaker. They just want to make sure he can win at the bargaining table.”

Arguably, the union believes they found their winner in Williams.

He is an aggressive labor boss with over 25 years of experience. He has been a member of the union since 1977 starting as a salvage welder. In 2001, he was elected UAW Region 4 (covering much of the northern Midwest) Director was also re-elected to that post in 2002 and 2006.

This man’s confrontational style has shaped an eventful career. He led a strike against Caterpillar; the largest construction equipment company in the world, in the 1990’s which lasted over 5 years, according to the Detroit Free Press. Williams even stated at the UAW’s International Executive Board (IEB) meeting in 2011, that he was involved in a 6 month lockout with John Deere and that the fight with Caterpillar was one he fought for over 7 years.

Much of Williams experience as a labor boss has been with companies like Caterpillar and John Deere, which provide equipment and vehicles to the agriculture industry. Williams explains that this industry has declined from 100,000 members to below 15,000 and that union fighting with these companies began in 1980. What he fails to mention is that UAW membership has been on decline as a whole since 1979. What he does explain is that “many people forget how this happened (the decline of the industry), ….we call these the Reagan and Bush years”

No surprise that Williams blames the Republicans for the decline of this industry. The UAW is a highly liberal and politically active organization and has been since its inception. Dennis Williams has strong ties to the Obama Administration. The UAW website boasts that Williams “In 2007… was central in orchestrating then-candidate Barack Obama’s upset win in Iowa that launched his successful candidacy for United States Presidency.” According to the UAW spent $15 million in the 2012 election cycle; all of that money went to liberal candidates. The UAW spent over $148,000 to re-elect President Barack Obama in 2012. With his political connections, Williams is an obvious choice to lead the union.

Lame duck President King has left the union in shambles after his failed attempts in the South. In order to achieve the union’s agenda they need someone who is not afraid to fight. Williams is their person in every sense of the word. He has the political clout, willingness to strike, and the mouth to make noise for the union, something that King lacked.

King and Williams could not be more different in style, background, and even appearance. The tall slender King with round glasses is a man not even the janitor would be scared of, let alone a major corporation in a labor dispute.

Williams has a more intimidating presence, but his background is one rooted in old school labor tactics. In a 21st century global labor market, Williams just like King, may not be the saving grace for this union.

The UAW is a sinking ship, no matter who is at the helm.