The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

UAW Members Vote, Real Change Will Take a Fight

Dec 5, 2022

Members of the UAW (United Auto Workers) have voted for changes in the top leadership of the union.

For the first time, the UAW president and members of the union’s International Executive Board were voted upon directly by the union members, instead of being elected by delegates to the UAW convention. Only about 10% of the union’s one million active and retired members voted in the mail-in ballot election. But the majority of those voting cast their ballots for candidates running against the incumbent leadership of the Administration Caucus, who have controlled the top positions in the UAW for decades.

The main opposition slate won 5 positions outright and will have 2 other candidates in run-off elections, including for union president. Another opposition candidate won a Regional Director position, beating out the incumbent. Depending on the outcome of the run-off elections, it is possible that opposition candidates could control a majority of 8 positions on the 14-member union executive board.

All of the opposition candidates, in one way or another, campaigned on two main issues. They said the current leadership should be replaced because of the corruption of some of the former top UAW leaders who were convicted of misusing union dues and joint funds. And they said that they were opposed to the UAW leadership’s policies of agreeing to concessions with the auto companies.

Certainly the vote by the UAW members reflected the workers’ anger at the top leadership over both corruption and concessions. It seemed that, in many cases, the workers were voting against the top leadership as much or more so than voting for opposition candidates that they did not know or they knew little about.

But if workers want to see a different direction for the UAW, if they want to see an end to the concessions, it is important to understand what that is going to take. It will take more than new leadership. To stop concessions, it is going to take a serious fight against the auto corporations and the other companies. What happens in the future will depend, not so much on having new leadership. It will depend on the workers’ readiness to make a fight.