The following statement was made by Will Lehman, a grassroots worker who is running for UAW President. For more information on the Lehman campaign, visit WillforUAWPresident.org.
UAW presidential candidate Shawn Fain is asking me to support him in the re-election to replace current UAW President Ray Curry. which will take place according to the UAW inspector of elections sometime between January 12 and February 28.
There are two main reasons why I do not support Fain.
First, the first round of the election is completely illegal, and the results should not be verified. In fact, less than 10% of the 1.1 million active and retired workers authorized to vote voted. The top two candidates, Curry and Fain, each received less than 4% of the eligible members’ votes.
These results are not due to worker indifference, as Fain suggests. It is the result of a deliberate policy by the UAW bureaucracy to block the vote and deny hundreds of thousands of UAW members the right to decide who leads their union.
Moreover, a large number of workers did not even know that the election was taking place. The UAW did not send any notice to inform them. There are no posters posted in factories and other workplaces. Many workers never received ballots despite calls to local union offices and a UAW auditor.
How else to explain that only 1,279 members out of 30,000, or 4% of the possible number, and specifically of the 5810 and 2865 chapters of the UAW at the University of California (UC) voted in the election? Far from being indifferent, these members are among the 48,000 UC workers involved in the largest university labor strike in American history. Other locals in UAW Region 6 with very low turnout rates include 29 votes out of 11,000 graduate workers at California State University (UAW Local 4123) (0.2%) and 74 votes out of 9,000 University adjuncts of Washington (0.8%) who are members of Local 4121.
In a video posted on Facebook on December 7, Fain endorsed a fraudulent election and denounced the disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of workers. “Some people are making a fuss that only 106,000 members voted in the election,” he said, “and for that I would rather have one hundred thousand members who would vote to decide who will be the main leaders of this union instead of a thousand members or less than that at the congress who have been pressured or threatened by those in power.”
Last year, UAW members voted overwhelmingly to end the undemocratic delegation system and establish a direct membership vote for top UAW leaders, for the first time in union history.
After the UAW bureaucracy failed to block the “one member, one vote” system, Curry and company worked hard to limit the number of workers who could participate in the election, leading to a sharp decline in the number of ballots in the round. the first election. elections (106,000) compared to referendums (143,000).
The UAW, backed by the UAW Inspector General of Elections, the Biden administration and the federal courts, challenged the lawsuit I filed last month seeking a 30-day extension of the voting deadline and for a federal court to compel the UAW to notify all of its members. of elections and make sure they vote.
Instead, the UAW has done everything it can to reduce the turnout of tens of thousands of national, regional and local officials who support it. In this way, they told themselves that the election would be nothing more than a beauty contest between opposing factions within the UAW apparatus itself, without any real voice from the membership.
This brings me to the second reason why I do not support Fain. He claims that all the candidates who oppose Curry agree among themselves to “fix the union.” Now, he says, we have to tell those who voted for Fain to “get the job done.” However, I ran for office not to reform the UAW bureaucracy, but to abolish it and transfer power to rank and file workers in the shops.
Fain’s defense of the legitimacy of the election is tied to the fact that he is a long-time UAW official who has climbed atop the scumbag that is the UAW apparatus. by collaborating in the destruction of jobs, living standards and working conditions. of UAW members.
As a member of the UAW-Chrysler bargaining committees in 2009 and 2011, Fain agreed to cut wages in half for new workers, end the eight-hour day, and expand agency work. During the 2015 negotiations, he was named deputy director of the UAW-Fiat Chrysler division. Federal prosecutors later described the department as the center of a “culture of corruption” when they convicted Fain’s boss Norwood Jewell of accepting millions of dollars in bribes from part of the company to sign and use contracts favoring the employer. It’s hard to believe Fain didn’t know what was going on under his nose.
If elected, the only change will be that Fain will increase his current salary from $156,364 as an “administrative assistant” at Solidarity House to nearly $300,000, which is pocketed by the UAW president.
Most employees voted for Brian Keller because they opposed both Curry and Fain. But Keller responded to Fain’s call by now asking his supporters to vote for him. While saying he “can’t endorse anybody publicly,” Keller said, “We have Ray Curry, and we have Shawn Fain: it’s not a hard choice.” If Fain is elected, Keller says, we’ll see what he does for the membership. I hope he does well. I hope he will be a man of his word. But only time will tell. We’ll see.”
It’s no secret what Fain will do. He faithfully served the UAW bureaucracy throughout his life. Like Curry, he will cooperate with unions in the ongoing raids against UAW members.
Throughout my campaign, I have warned that replacing the bureaucracy of one party with another will do nothing to advance our interests. That is why I have focused my campaign on building a network of rank and file committees, democratically controlled by the workers themselves, as a new center of decision-making authority and struggle against the bosses.
I am calling on the workers to demand that all UAW presidential candidates be included in the election, and that all workers be fully informed that this election is taking place. Only then will workers be able to vote meaningfully, instead of choosing between two union bureaucrats who together received less than 10% of the votes of all eligible voters.
(Article published in English on December 13, 2022)