"I had intended to retire at 65 as Regional Director in Region 1D," Kariem said in a statement. "But it was important to get our Ford members through this pandemic and make sure we had solid footing for our membership before I retired.
"I'm proud of the work we have done implementing the 2019 labor agreement, steering through this pandemic and the day-to-day challenges it presented, and now this worldwide launch of the F-150 Lightning. The time is right to pass the torch."
Before his latest position, Kariem had served as Region 1D director since 2010.
"We want to wish Gerald Kariem the very best in his retirement," John Savona, Ford's vice president of manufacturing and labor said in a statement. "When he became Vice President of UAW’S Ford Department, Gerald quickly learned about the strength of the UAW/Ford family. When the pandemic hit, Gerald helped shape the health and safety protocols that our employees depend on today and he supported the production of critical PPE and medical devices. We will miss working with him."
Kariem's departure may not be the only change to the union's leadership. Gamble has said he is also considering stepping down a year early, after having helped the union avoid a federal takeover following a corruption scandal that has netted 15 convictions, including Gamble's immediate two predecessors.
Gamble, on hand for the reveal of the Ford Lightning in Dearborn last week, told Automotive News he expects to announce a decision about his future this week.