DETROIT — The election of Shawn Fain as the UAW's fifth president in five years could upend what are already expected to be difficult contract negotiations between the union and Detroit 3 automakers later this year.
But his razor-thin margin of victory over incumbent Ray Curry — Fain won by fewer than 500 votes and received the support of less than 7 percent of the UAW's membership — could make it tough to rally a disgruntled membership eager to move beyond the union's troubled past.
"No one can declare they have a mandate," said Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University in Detroit who specializes in labor issues. "The membership is obviously divided. I think the No. 1 challenge facing Fain is to unite the membership behind a bargaining strategy."
Fain, who was sworn in on Sunday, will have to hit the ground running. Union leaders from around the country will gather this week for a special bargaining convention, where they'll vote on resolutions and priorities to guide their strategy this fall.