UAW narrowly wins contested Ford election

In this Thursday, April 26, 2018, photo, Sr. Mary Ann Sullivan, chairman and president of the Detroit-based United Auto Workers Local 924, speaks about the election of union President Gary Jones to the union’s…

UAW narrowly wins contested Ford election

In this Thursday, April 26, 2018, photo, Sr. Mary Ann Sullivan, chairman and president of the Detroit-based United Auto Workers Local 924, speaks about the election of union President Gary Jones to the union’s national leadership. The group inside Detroit’s Ford Motor Company is to press its issues this month at five and counting meetings held at the company’s Dearborn facility.

In this Thursday, April 26, 2018, photo, Sr. Mary Ann Sullivan, chairman and president of the Detroit-based United Auto Workers Local 924, speaks about the election of union President Gary Jones to the union’s national leadership. The group inside Detroit’s Ford Motor Company is to press its issues this month at five and counting meetings held at the company’s Dearborn facility.

The United Auto Workers Union has narrowly won an election that was seen as likely to result in an outsider taking the reins of the U.S. labor organization.

The Detroit-based union has confirmed that a council member in its Ward 12 represents a narrow victory over Ford Motor Co. Chairman and CEO Mark Fields, the candidate backed by the union’s powerful former president and CEO Ron Gettelfinger, reports The Associated Press.

The elections were held in February, but just announced Wednesday after nearly three months were added to the time period required for a formal vote. The race was widely watched in Michigan as a litmus test for union politics that play out often in a tight contest.

Johnson Rae Stewart of Dearborn beat Fields and was also supported by a person mentioned in reports as a potential replacement for UAW President Dennis Williams, who did not endorse a candidate. Williams did not leave a position for his term-limited successor.

Gettelfinger is staying on the board and is the namesake of Ford’s former global product development chief.

Both candidates ran for president, but Stewart got 60 percent of the votes, reports The New York Times.

“I am honored by the trust and confidence Ford Place has placed in me to lead a union and our Ford teammates that are eager to strengthen labor-management relations and continue providing quality products and experiences for customers,” Stewart said in a statement.

Fields referred to the results as “another step forward in the UAW’s ongoing renewal,” reports the Times.

Talks continue on new UAW contract

Meanwhile, the union said Wednesday the two sides have agreed to a series of bargaining sessions through July as negotiations continue toward a new contract.

Officials from the UAW and Ford Motor Co. said the new session plan is part of what the parties considered a six-step “review and reset” in recent negotiations.

Ford, the UAW and the automaker’s four unions are also continuing talks toward a new labor contract after the current labor deal expired Wednesday. The United Auto Workers said the parties had agreed on a “fact-finding process” leading up to a union convention in November.

Ford said it remains open to “meaningful changes” but also wants to ensure that the contract establishes stable business opportunities.

Union spokesmen said both parties are making progress.

“Clearly, the recovery of Ford’s earnings indicates the company is on a strong and steady path. But Ford is competing in a dynamic global market and that requires more accountability, and a labor contract that rewards employees for the labor they do and provides for a foundation for long-term stability,” said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, who will lead the union in the talks.

Williams, who was expected to announce a successor last month, has said his decision will be final at the end of his term in early 2018.

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