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UAW president faces run-off election as reformers make gains

Newly elected United Auto Workers Secretary -Treasurer Ray Curry and UAW Vice-President for General Motors Cindy Estrada celebrate their election victory during the 37th Constitutional Convention in Detroit,

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - United Auto Workers (UAW) President Ray Curry will face a run-off election against reform presidential candidate Shawn Fain, a court-appointed monitor said on Monday, after none of the five candidates captured a majority.

Fain, who as a reform candidate wants the UAW to take a more confrontational approach in auto contract talks and push to end a two-tier compensation system that pays newer workers less, narrowly trailed Curry in the election.

Six reform candidates were elected to other officer positions in the elections. The run-off election, which will also determine a vice president and regional director race, could see reformers claim a majority of seats on the 14-member UAW executive board. Ballots are due by Feb. 28.

UAW officers previously were elected through a delegate system. Members approved direct elections in a 2021 referendum required as part of a 2020 U.S. Justice Department settlement to resolve a corruption probe.

For more than three decades, all UAW officers have come from an administrative slate of candidates.

Curry has been president of the UAW since June 2021, and a UAW member since 1992.

Fain has been a UAW member for more than two decades, serving as an officer at a local in Indiana representing workers at a Stellantis casting plant and an international representative.

The UAW has about 375,000 U.S. members.

"This is our shot for true reform of the UAW and putting the power and control of our union back in the hands of the membership by electing leaders who will be held accountable by the membership," Fain said.

Curry said the new board will be sworn in on Dec. 12. "Our members have spoken," Curry said, saying he is confident board members have "a vision of strengthening our great union."

Labor contracts with General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler-parent Stellantis expire in late 2023, and this week workers will vote at a GM, LG Energy Ultium joint venture battery cell manufacturing plant in Ohio on whether to join the UAW.

Numerous UAW officers pleaded guilty to embezzling millions of dollars for their personal benefit, using the funds for liquor, cigars, golf outings and expensive hotel stays, including two former presidents.

FCA US, the North American operating subsidiary of Stellantis, pleaded guilty in 2021 to making $3.5 million in illegal payments to UAW officers and paid a $30 million fine.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler)