For more than 50 years, UAW presidents have come from the ranks of the international vice presidents. Traditionally, they also have extensive automotive experience and have served more than one term.
Here, as compiled by Crain's Detroit Business, a sister publication to Automotive News, are the most likely candidates to replace UAW President Steve Yokich when his term ends in June 2002:
Richard Shoemaker, 60
In his favor: Shoemaker is in charge of the union's GM department, a job held by Yokich and other past UAW presidents immediately before their ascendancy to the presidency. Shoemaker is well-liked, and he has been mentioned more than others as an heir apparent. He also has been a vice president longer than the other vice presidents, having first been elected in 1995.
Obstacles: Shoemaker is 60, meaning he would be 62 at the next election, making him eligible to serve just one four-year term before he turns 65 in October 2005. Most presidents have served at least two terms.
Ron Gettelfinger, 55
In his favor: Five years younger than Shoemaker, Gettelfinger would be young enough to serve as many as three four-year terms because his 65th birthday falls in August, a month after the 2010 election. He has run the UAW's Ford department since 1998 and gained a high profile in the most recent contract talks with Ford. He previously served as director of UAW Region 3 headquartered in Indianapolis.
A Marine veteran, Gettelfinger began working at Ford's Louisville, Ky., assembly plant. Because of his extensive experience in Kentucky and Indiana, he is familiar with the anti-union sentiment in states where foreign automakers have set up plants that the UAW has been trying hard to organize.
Obstacles: The top job traditionally has gone to someone from Detroit, and Gettelfinger has spent most of his career in Indiana and Kentucky, only arriving here in 1998.
Elizabeth Bunn, 49
In her favor: When asked to identify the future leaders of the UAW, Yokich singled out Bunn, the youngest UAW vice president.
Bunn oversees the UAW's Competitive Shop Department, which covers suppliers as well as the Technical, Office and Professional Department. As such, she has made a name for herself organizing beyond the automotive sector, where the union has seen its biggest gains. Before her 1998 election, she served as the top administrative assistant under Yokich. She is an attorney and young enough to serve well into the 2010s.
Obstacles: Like the car companies, the union has been dominated by men in key roles. The UAW has never elected a woman president, and those who have held the top job have come from the GM, Ford or Chrysler departments. While the other vice presidents joined the union while working for auto or manufacturing companies, she has not worked for an automaker.
Bob King, 53
In his favor: Well-liked and articulate, the director of the UAW's National Organizing Department is known for his recruitment skills. He aggressively mobilized members to support various union drives, including leading 1,500 members in a predawn demon- stration supporting Johnson Controls workers and helping Dayton-Hudson's Westland workers win a contract after an eight-year battle. As was the case with Yokich, organizing is one of his top priorities.
He is young enough to be eligible to serve during this decade on into the 2010s. He is an Army veteran and has a law degree.
Obstacles: Has not been a director of one of the three major auto departments, generally a last stop before becoming president.
Nate Gooden, 61
In his favor: The Army veteran would be the union's first black president. Most of his experience is at the locals level, having worked his way up from shop steward to local president to international representative for Region 1, which includes the east side of Detroit, Macomb, Oakland, Lapeer and St. Clair counties and some Canadian locals. In 1998, he was elected Region 1 director. He now is in charge of the DaimlerChrysler Department and brings extensive experience dealing with that automaker to the position.
Obstacles: Gooden was elected a vice president last November following the death of his predecessor, Jack Laskowski. If elected at age 63, he would be ineligible to serve more than a single term.