DETROIT — U.S. District Judge David Lawson on Tuesday approved the results of last year's UAW referendum vote, in which members opted for a more direct say in how they elect union leaders.
The office of court-appointed monitor Neil Barofsky announced in early December that nearly 64 percent of the 140,586 votes cast were in favor of adopting a "one member, one vote" system for electing officers, while 36 percent voted in favor of retaining the current delegate-based system. Under the terms of the union's six-year consent decree with the federal government, the results had to be approved by a judge before changes could be implemented.
Lawson on Tuesday ordered the union change its constitution and implement the new voting system by June 30, ahead of a July convention where members will gather to elect a president and other executive board members. Barfosky will design the new voting system in consultation with the union.
"We designed the Consent Decree so that the members of the UAW would be able to decide for themselves how they would choose their leaders going forward, rather than having the government impose one system or another," U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison said in a statement. "Now that the members have spoken and chosen a system of direct elections, we will continue to work with the Monitor to ensure that the UAW is fully reformed, free of corruption and fraud, and that the union's elections will be fair and in compliance with the will of the membership."
The change to the election system is the result of a yearslong federal corruption probe that has sent 15 people, including two former union presidents, to jail for stealing money from members. A sixteenth person was charged in November.
The changes mean UAW President Ray Curry could face a tougher path to reelection than his predecessors. Rory Gamble, who retired as president a year before his term was to expire, had selected Curry as his successor in part because he could become a multiple-term president.