With United Auto Workers president Bob King restricted by union bylaws from being reelected, the union is preparing to select his replacement. Industry watchers expect UAW secretary-treasurer Dennis Williams to be selected next month at a meeting of the UAW’s administrative caucus. Since all but one UAW presidents have been selected by the administrative caucus, the move will likely pave the way for Williams to succeed King, whose term ends in nine months. Before taking the national secretary-treasurer position Williams was the union’s Chicago area regional director.
UAW insiders view Williams as the likely choice because of his work as regional director, the respect he’s earned at Solidarity House since taking a national office and because he has ties to the Obama administration. In 2007 Williams had a key role in Mr. Obama’s upset win in the Iowa caucuses that propelled him eventually to the White House. Williams role in trying to organize transplant operations owned by German and Asian automakers is also cited as a factor.
Union rules prohibit anyone older than 65 from taking an elected office. King is 67. The UAW’s vice president in charge of the union’s General Motors department, Joe Ashton, once seen as a possible president, is also now too old. Jimmy Settles, vice president of the union’s Ford department, who had once expressed interest in to job apparently has changd his mind. “I am not a candidate,” Settles told the Detroit Free Press last week. “At one time I was interested. I am not now.”
The head of the union’s Chrysler department, General Holiefield, was also thought to be a possible replacement for King but rumors about his future have emerged since one of his top aides, James Hardy, suddenly retired.
Cindy Estrada, another UAW VP, is considered to have a bright future with the union but it would be a longshot for her to become the union’s first female president. Regional director, Gary Casteel, who has been involved with trying to organize Volkswagen and Nissan plants in the U.S. has also been mentioned for consideration.
It’s possible that a dissident candidate could emerge, but because of the way the union selects its officers, it’s unlikely than such a candidate could win.