In vote this week, United Auto Workers to decide future of union's leadership

Oct 27, 2021

Updated Oct. 28 at 4:40 p.m. 

Ballots for the pivotal United Auto Workers union vote that will decide its future are now arriving for members in western Massachusetts.

The United Auto Workers has faced corruption at the national level — with two ex-presidents being convicted for embezzling union funds.

Now, a group of members, and the U.S. Department of Justice, are calling for a change in how leaders are elected. The proposal would open up the process, giving one vote to each union member.

"It will also give the membership the right to decide who will run the union at the highest levels,” said Michael Cannon, member of the group’s steering committee. “This will make the leaders compete for the offices instead of just using the good old boy system that we have now, which is the convention delegate system of promoting leadership in the union.”

Sharanya Sridha co-chairs a UAW local with about 2,000 members — including UMass Amherst's graduate workers.

“It's never a good idea for power to be concentrated in the top level, whether it's a union or any other organization. It's better if a structural change that would allow for the members to have the final say in anything,” Sridha said.

Ballots must be received by November 29.

Correction: An earlier version of this story included the original deadline for ballots to be received. The deadline was extended to November 29.