UAW caucus to nominate new leadership slate for 2018 election
DETROIT -- Following failed organizing drives and an ongoing federal corruption probe, hundreds of UAW officials are expected to meet in Detroit this week to select a slate of candidates for the union’s 2018 elections.
The UAW's Administrative Caucus -- consisting of national and local officers and members -- is scheduled to meet Thursday in Detroit to make its recommendations for leadership positions, including secretary-treasurer, vice presidents and president.
The union has not made any official announcement about the event; three people familiar with the plans confirmed the scheduled leadership meeting to Automotive News.
A UAW spokesman declined to comment.
The meeting is part of the union's election process and not a result of recent lost organizing efforts or a widening federal investigation into the alleged misuse of $4.5 million in worker training funds from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles being used to line the pockets of union and company officials.
Presidential candidates selected by the caucus have gone on to win elections for the past 70 years. Delegates representing rank-and-file UAW members will vote on the positions at the UAW's Constitutional Convention, which is scheduled for June, when the new terms will start.
The UAW Administrative Caucus, also known as the Reuther Caucus, is expected to nominate a new president and at least one new member to the leadership team. It also will determine if nonretiring members are worthy of re-election.
Both UAW President Dennis Williams, 64, and UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, 67, who oversees the union's Ford department, are anticipated to retire due to the union's practice of not allowing anyone aged 65 or older to run for office.
The retirements will leave the Reuther Caucus, which was named after the UAW's famed president from 1946 to 1970, to select its choice for a new president and consider the re-election of Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel, 61, and Vice Presidents Cindy Estrada, 49, and Norwood Jewell, 60. If regional directors are chosen for any positions, replacement candidates for those positions also are expected to be selected.
None of the sitting officers have been charged or publicly named in a federal investigation that allegedly involves $4.5 million from FCA meant for worker training being siphoned to union officials and company employees.
However, Jewell did reportedly receive a $2,180 shotgun bought with union training center funds. The UAW contends he did not know the gun, which was a gift, was paid for with the funds and he has since reimbursed the center.
U.S. prosecutors say Jewell's predecessor, the late General Holiefield, was a key figure in the alleged illegal activities along with FCA's former top negotiator, Alphons Iacobelli. The case, which was made public in June, has led to criminal charges against four people, including Iacobelli and Holiefield's widow, Monica Morgan.
The federal investigation isn't the only black cloud hanging over the caucus' discussions. Other likely topics of discussion are contentious 2015 contract negotiations with the Detroit automakers and failed organizing efforts with workers from Nissan Motor Co. and an auto glass plant near Dayton, Ohio.
This month, workers at Chinese-owned Fuyao Glass Industry Group voted nearly 2-to-1 against union representation, which would have covered roughly 1,500 plant workers.
The defeat came three months after workers at Nissan's Canton, Miss., assembly plant also rejected unionization, another setback in the UAW's decades-long quest to organize foreign automakers' assembly plants in the South.
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