By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Union challenger Shawn Fain is narrowly leading United Auto Workers (UAW) President Ray Curry in a runoff election as Curry’s campaign said it had filed a protest.
Earlier this month, a court-appointed monitor said Fain received 69,118 votes and Curry has 68,473 votes – a difference of 645 votes – but with 1,608 unresolved challenged ballots. The court monitor oversaw counting on Thursday but has not released results.
A group backing Fain said on Friday he has a lead of 505 votes with 600 challenged ballots left to be counted, “making Fain’s victory all but assured.” The monitor did not immediately comment on Friday.
The protest filed by Curry’s campaign raised numerous issues including the fact that tens of thousands of ballots were returned as undeliverable and urged the monitor to “immediately delay the announcement of a final result and immediately investigate these questions in a transparent process.”
The election comes at a critical time for the union.
Labor contracts with Detroit’s Big Three automakers expire in September. The UAW is working to organize new battery plants and members worry that shifting to electric vehicles will cost jobs.
Curry has been president of the UAW since June 2021, and a UAW member since 1992. Fain has been a UAW member for more than two decades, serving as an officer at a local in Indiana representing workers at a Stellantis NV casting plant.
The UAW won a victory in December, when workers at an Ohio General Motors-LG Energy battery cell factory voted to join the union.
UAW officers previously were elected through a delegate system. Members approved direct elections in a 2021 referendum required as part of a 2020 Justice Department settlement to resolve a corruption probe which resulted in the incarceration of two former UAW presidents.
The UAW has about 375,000 U.S. members, down from 1.5 million in 1979.
(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)
Today the United Auto Workers (UAW) announced that a presidential challenger, Rory Gamble, has declared a lead in the race for UAW President. Meanwhile, his main rival’s campaign has filed a formal protest, alleging that ballots had been mishandled during the vote counting process.
The incumbent in the race, Gary Jones, stepped down from his position in November amid federal corruption investigations. The UAW’s International Executive Board appointed Gamble as the union’s interim president in December.
The UAW’s Elections Committee has announced that Gamble’s lead has been certified, with almost 1,200 more votes than his nearest rival. This challenger ran on a platform of reform and promised to tackle the culture of corruption which took hold during the previous presidential term.
The rival campaign, led by Jeffery Ford, has filed a formal protest, accusing the Elections Committee of mishandling ballots and improperly engaging in the vote-counting process. This has led to allegations of vote tampering, something which Gamble’s campaign has strongly refuted.
The Election Committee has yet to make a decision on the protest and is expected to issue a statement soon on their decision. Until then, Gamble’s campaign is cautiously optimistic that they will prevail in the election. If their lead is sustained, Gamble will become the next UAW President.