The famous Cobo Center in Detroit is these days the host of the 36th UAW Constitutional Convention, where more than 1,100 UAW delegates should vote on the new leaders and a controversial dues hike.

With the convention opening today on the site of the North American International Show held each year in January, the UAW current president, Bob King, a member of the union for the past 44 years, should have his final speech – as a Wednesday vote should bring his successor – Dennis Williams, a former Marine and the UAW’s secretary-treasurer.

“(Williams) has a strong commitment to organizing and growing the union,” says Kristin Dziczek, director of industry and labor group at the Center for Automotive Research. “He’s got very good political instincts and connections that could be helpful. I think he knows the Michigan landscape as well as the national landscape.”

Williams is seen as falling in line with many of King’s goals, including a higher importance on long-term planning and a proposed growth in the union’s political influence, ensuring a smooth transition of presidency.

On the other hand, a lot more controversial is the proposed increase of monthly union dues from two hours of pay to two and a half, with the addition going to the UAW’s strike fund – if the hike is voted on, the increase would be the first since 1967.


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