Detroit News: Marick Masters on UAW election process

A group of dissidents in the United Auto Workers is the second in 30 years to attempt change in the democratic union they say has really been ruled by one party: the Reuther Administrative Caucus. That caucus has nominated the winning candidates for the union's executive board members for most of the past 70 years — with the exception of one notable exception, a challenger from the New Directions movement that rose up in the mid-1980s. Formed in the union's now-defunct Region 5 based in St. Louis, the New Directions movement called for amending the UAW constitution for a "one-member, one-vote" system. The current process has member-elected delegates from each local elect the international leaders. The New Directions efforts inspired the current push from a reform group calling itself Unite All Workers for Democracy. The new group — created as the labor union has been shaken by a federal corruption investigation implicating top UAW officials — has been gathering support from union locals in calling for a special convention to implement the direct election of union officials. The most recent move toward direct elections is “a significant response to the wave of scandal that has beset the UAW,” said Marick Masters, a business faculty member at Wayne State University. Masters said direct elections of international union officers would be a step in the right direction for the union. He said it would show greater reform than what’s already been implemented by the UAW, including more financial and ethical oversight from within. Direct elections would maybe do more than anything else to forestall a government takeover, Masters said, because "you would clearly have competition for the current leadership positions."

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