Detroit News: Marick Masters on challenges faced by UAW

Ray Curry’s in a hurry. He wants to win raises from Detroit’s automakers for 150,000 members, secure jobs and investment at existing plants and bargain legacy wage rates at the industry’s growing network of battery plants—just this year. But he needs to win reelection as president of the United Auto Workers this month, potentially as the first in the union's 87-year history to claim its top job by a direct election of members. It won’t be easy following mixed results in the first round of voting and a corruption probe that forced the UAW into federal supervision and convicted 11 union officials—including two former presidents—on federal charges. Several went to prison. These are fraught times for the UAW, a labor powerhouse diminished by the misdeeds of former leaders greasing metaphoric palms with the dues money of everyday members. It's also an aging institution facing transformational change in its bellwether auto industry, a union whose future rests on multibillion-dollar investment decisions, consumer acceptance of electric vehicles and government policies it mostly cannot control. The UAW "will face a serious challenge in getting what they want because the industry is in transition," said Marick Masters, former director of labor at Wayne State University and a professor of business at the Mike Ilitch School of Business. "Regardless of who wins, the new president is going to face the same structural challenges the union faces."

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