Dennis Williams, a former welder who helped jump-start Barack Obama’s presidential bid, is poised to lead the United Auto Workers union as it seeks to accelerate a recovery paced by resurgent U.S. automakers.
Williams, the UAW’s secretary-treasurer, was named by a union caucus as its candidate for president during a press conference yesterday in Dearborn, Michigan. Williams, 60, has led the UAW’s efforts to organize U.S. workers at Volkswagen and Nissan factories in Tennessee and Mississippi.
The UAW has accepted lower wages for new auto worker hires in a bid to rebuild membership that fell to Great Depression era lows in 2009, when GM and Chrysler predecessors went bankrupt.
If elected in June, Williams would succeed Bob King, 67, who has benefited from the Detroit Three’s recoveries while staking the union’s future bargaining power on adding members from Asian and European carmakers.
Williams was “central in orchestrating” Obama’s win in the Iowa Democratic caucus, a key early victory that helped spur his 2008 election, according to his biography on the UAW’s website. Before becoming secretary-treasurer, he was director of the UAW’s Region 4, which includes Iowa and Obama’s home state of Illinois.