UAW’s top negotiator is a woman image

Just as the No.1 US automaker has for the first time ever named at its top position a woman – with Mary Barra as the new CEO, so does the UAW – with Cindy Estrada, the new leader of the GM department.

Estrada, 45, is a veteran member of the union’s board, working from her vice president role to organize union efforts at supplier plants and in the public sector. She has been appointed as the union’s top negotiator and as the leader of the UAW’s General Motors Department, which pits her against GM’s CEO Mary Barra. She is the first appointement coming from the new UAW president Dennis Williams, elected last week during the union’s triennial convention.

While she hasn’t had a full-time employment in the auto sector, Estrada – a graduate of the University of Michigan and a teacher before the UAW – has a long stint with labor movements.

In her new position, the UAW premiers a surprising situation – the first ever woman heading the GM unit – the union’s biggest automaker – is meeting the first female CEO in the top levels of the automotive industry.

Estrada’s mission for next year is to focus on the upcoming negotiations with the automaker, as the UAW is signaling it wants to move past the two-tier wage structure that Detroit’s makers said aided them in becoming profitable again – veteran workers get around $29 per hour, while new workers get no more than $19.