UAW will present outgoing Williams with retirement perks
DETROIT -- UAW delegates are expected to present outgoing UAW President Dennis Williams with the use of a cabin at the union’s Black Lake retreat and conference center in northern Michigan when he retires this week.
The gesture is outlined in the union’s proposed resolution book for this week’s 37th UAW Constitutional Convention here.
A cabin at Black Lake for retired union presidents has been a standing practice for decades, according to a UAW spokesman. It was not a formal resolution at the convention four years ago, however the spokesman said it was passed for Williams’ predecessor, Bob King, at the union’s collective bargaining conference in 2015. It is not part of the union’s constitution.
The UAW, under the 2018 proposed resolution, would authorize “the availability of a cabin” and pay “any related costs associated with [Williams’] use of the cabin during his stays” at the Walter and May Reuther Family Education Center at Black Lake, also known as Black Lake.
Under the resolution, Williams, a one-term president, would also become president emeritus -- a traditional gesture of appreciation that also was granted to King, who referred questions Monday to the UAW.
The cabin and emeritus status, according to the resolution book, recognize Williams’ “steadfast dedication and commitment” to the UAW’s principles and ideals.
Black Lake is a sprawling property near Onaway in the northeastern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula that includes a conference center, overnight lodging, condos, Olympic-size indoor swimming pool and award-winning golf courses.
The conference center, funded by interest from the UAW's strike fund, opened in 1970 as an educational outpost for UAW members. It has become a point of debate among some members because the union has kept the center amid declining membership and financial instability during the Great Recession.
Williams last month said Black Lake has been doing "very, very well lately." He said the center, which was previously for sale, requires about 2 percent of the union's annual budget to operate.
"We're not out of the woods yet. We're doing a lot of investing in it," he said during a briefing with journalists in Detroit on May 24.
The UAW, according to Williams, annually sends 7,800-8,400 members to the center for workshops.
Williams reconfirmed the union’s “recommitment” to Black Lake in his state of the union address Monday, saying the union has “rebuilt Black Lake” in an attempt to make it more admirable to members and their families.
Williams, 65, is retiring after more than 40 years with the union, including a contentious, yet productive, four-year term as president.
Williams restructured the UAW's regional operations, cut costs, instituted budgets by departments and balanced the union's books.
“We have achieved our goals,” William told delegates at the convention on Monday, citing a balanced budget, organizing efforts and increased membership.
UAW membership grew under Williams, but his tenure also included high-profile organizing losses in the southern U.S. and the emergence of a federal investigation into the union’s joint training centers with automakers.
The federal case initially focused on events before Williams became president but has expanded to include his tenure. He has not been named or charged in the case.
Williams outlined a series of safeguards the union and training center have implemented in an attempt to cease such actions from happening again.
The UAW Constitutional Convention is a gathering of thousands of delegates that represent the union’s more than 430,000 members. Union leaders present business updates, and new officers are elected.
This year’s meeting also includes a Tuesday vote to reaffirm an increase in monthly membership dues that was approved at the 2014 convention.
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