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UAW workers vote to elect union leaders directly

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The United Auto Workers union logo on the UAW Solidarity House in Detroit, Michigan, September 8, 2011. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

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WASHINGTON, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Members of the United Auto Workers union have voted to change the union's election method from the current delegate system to a direct election model, a court-appointed monitor said.

The referendum showed 63.7%, or 89,615 votes, in favor of the direct voting system, with 50,971, or 36.3%, for keeping the status quo, monitor Neil Barofsky said.

The referendum at the 400,000-member union was required as part of a U.S. Justice Department settlement announced in December 2020 of corruption allegations that resulted in the convictions of two former UAW presidents, among others.

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Barofsky will confer with the UAW and then draft amendments to the union's constitution to incorporate the direct voting system. The next election of the UAW’s president, secretary-treasurer, vice presidents and regional directors will be the first under the new rules and likely take place in 2022.

In total, 16 people have been convicted in the wide-ranging investigation of corruption within the UAW or relating to illegal payoffs to UAW officials by Fiat Chrysler executives. Two former Fiat Chrysler executives have been convicted.

Several UAW officers, including the union's two former presidents, have pleaded guilty to embezzling millions of dollars for their personal benefit, using the funds for liquor, cigars, golf outings, related equipment and expensive hotel stays.

Barofsky said in a report last month the UAW has not done "enough to respond to repeated warnings about the pressing need to transform its culture."

The UAW represents about 150,000 workers at Detroit’s Big Three automakers. It also represents thousands of workers in other fields. At its peak in 1979, the union had a membership of about 1.5 million.

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Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Dan Grebler

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