By Bernie Woodall
DEARBORN, Mich. Nov 7 Dennis Williams, the
secretary-treasurer of the United Auto Workers, is the choice of
the union's leaders to be its next president, the UAW announced
Williams, 60, will stand for formal election at the UAW's
convention next June.
Williams indicated that he will carry on the mainly
non-confrontational approach toward negotiating with the
companies with UAW members, including the three major U.S.
automakers, General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and
Chrysler Group LLC, a unit of Italy's Fiat.
"I'm not afraid of confrontation," Williams said in a press
conference announcing his nomination. "But I think the best way
to handle dealing with corporations or anybody in life is you
sit down and you talk."
Current UAW President Bob King said that Williams was an
integral part of the union's strategy and negotiations with the
three major U.S. automakers that are the heart of its membership
in the 2011 talks.
In upcoming negotiations, Williams said, "I think people
will find my demeanor very businesslike with corporations. They
will find me very frank with them."
King will not run for re-election in keeping with the
union's practice of not allowing anyone aged 65 and older to run
Williams was selected Thursday by about 300 members of the
union's administrative caucus, which is also called the Reuther
Caucus, named for the UAW's president from 1946 to 1970. Since
Walter Reuther became president, the UAW candidate endorsed by
the administrative caucus has always gone on to win election as
The caucus, consisting of UAW national and local officers
and members from around the United States, met Thursday at a
hotel in Dearborn near Ford's global headquarters.
The next president's four-year term will be marked by
potentially contentious contract talks with U.S. automakers,
pressure to organize foreign-owned plants in the United States
and to maintain members in "right-to-work" states.
Adding members will also be a priority. UAW membership has
gained slightly under King's leadership, but its numbers are
down 31 percent since 2005.
Williams has been the secretary-treasurer of the union since
2010, and before that was based in Chicago as regional director
for an area stretching from Illinois to Wyoming.
The rest of the slate is Gary Casteel, now regional director
in the Southeast, as secretary-treasurer; incumbent vice
presidents Cindy Estrada and Jimmy Settles; and regional
director Norwood Jewell as vice president.
The union is cutting the number of vice presidents to three
If elected, Williams will be a one-term president, the
second one in a row following King, who became president in
2010. Williams indicated he would retire along with Settles, who
at 63 cannot be endorsed by the caucus again.
When asked about what the nomination meant to him, Williams,
a former U.S. Marine, choked back tears.
"I love this union," said Williams. "I love what it stands
Williams, who has been a high-ranking member of the UAW for
more than two decades, said he still likes to rub shoulders with
rank-and-file plant workers.
"I still love the smell of the plant coffee and the smoke in
the factory and walking up to that UAW members and saying
'brother' or 'sister'."