Will Lehman nominated for UAW president
Will Lehman, a Mack Trucks worker and socialist, was nominated to run for president of the United Auto Workers Union in elections held in October and November.
Lehman was nominated by two floor delegates to the UAW’s 38th Constitutional Convention in Detroit on Wednesday afternoon. He has accepted his nomination and will run against incumbent Ray Curry and other candidates in the UAW’s first direct election in more than 70 years.
This nomination is a tremendous achievement for autoworkers and other workers in the United States and around the world. Will fights to develop a powerful grassroots movement to break the grip of the UAW bureaucratic apparatus, which has overseen decades of betrayal and defeat. His campaign for the establishment of rank-and-file committees in every factory and workplace, and to unite workers internationally against global corporations, is gaining a powerful following among workers.
Two convention delegates made the nominations despite considerable intimidation from the UAW bureaucracy, which tried to keep Lehman off the ballot.
The first to name him was a veteran factory worker from Detroit. “I rise to nominate Will Lehman of UAW Local 677 as president of the UAW,” the worker said.
He used the remainder of his allotted five minutes to criticize the “thieves” of the UAW bureaucracy, saying members of the UAW’s current International Executive Council “covered up wrongdoing.” When UAW Vice President Terry Dittes and many of the delegates present tried to interrupt him, the worker stood his ground and said any IEB member complicit in covering up the corruption should “find a different career.
A few minutes later, another delegate from Chicago came on the microphone and said, “I want to nominate Will Lehman for president. This guy wants to put the power back in our hands. He wants us to make decisions about our union: what we do, how we do it. That’s all he wants to do. Bureaucracy, he doesn’t want that. He wants us to make decisions about benefits, our service, internationally, with other unions, respectfully, fairly, together.
For decades, UAW presidents and other top union leaders have been hand-picked by the UAW bureaucracy and its governing administrative caucus and rubber-stamped at constitutional conventions stacked with raises of hands. faithful.
This system was changed only because of exposure of widespread corruption within the UAW, which led to the imprisonment of a dozen union officials, including two national presidents, and the installation of a court-appointed comptroller who held a referendum on direct elections. Ray Curry and the IEB (International Executive Board) adamantly opposed the move to one man, one vote, but UAW members defeated them by a 2-to-1 margin.
Despite this, the UAW bureaucracy hoped to narrow the slate of presidential candidates to incumbent Ray Curry and, at most, a few staunch opponents, including Shawn Fain, an international representative of UAW Solidarity Socialist Services. , which is supported by the Democratic Socialists. of the American group Unite All Workers for Democracy (UAWD).
Fain was named Wednesday along with Mark “Gibby” Gibson, a store president for UAW Local 163, who recently sold out the Detroit Diesel workers’ struggle. Brian Keller, a Stellantis employee in Warren, Michigan, associated with the “UAW Real Talk” Facebook page, was also nominated.
The day before the nominations, Lehman and his supporters spoke to hundreds of autoworkers at the Stellantis (Chrysler) Warren truck assembly plant. Workers gave Will a warm welcome at their afternoon shift change and many demanded that convention delegates nominate Lehman so they would have a real choice in the election.
Lehman is the only candidate fighting for the abolition of the corporate-controlled UAW apparatus and the establishment of grassroots power on the shop floor, through the formation of grassroots and grassroots democratic committees. work and mobilizing all workers to fight for massive wage increases, the restoration of cost-of-living protections, the end of all levels, the immediate turnover of all part-time workers, and health care. company-paid health and pensions for all workers.
After his appointment, Will spoke to the WSWS about the program he would bring to workers across the United States and abroad. “I will fight for workers to abolish the bureaucracy within the UAW, which acts as a parasitic layer on us and blocks our struggles or leads them to an impasse.
“I will take forward the struggle to build the International Rank and Row Committee Workers Alliance (IWA-RFC), so that workers can expand our struggles, connect them and fight so that they can be winners. for workers. , no isolated losses. I want workers to vote for me, but these changes will only be possible if workers recognize the situation we find ourselves in and what we need to do to get out of it. We need to create committees in every factory and workplace, communicate with each other, and build true solidarity, not the solidarity that UAW bureaucrats preach as they betray us. It must be from worker to worker, from workshop to workshop and from country to country.
“We cannot operate with national interests in mind but with class interests. Ray Curry is working with the Biden administration and other Democrats, but no party, Democrat or Republican, represents the working class. We have to represent ourselves and form rank-and-file committees on that basis. »
Addressing the difficult challenges facing the working class, Lehman continued, “Workers are not just fighting corporations, but a bureaucracy. The UAW has no intention of fighting inflation, which is now above 9%. They tell us to wait years to negotiate new contracts as we accept huge real wage cuts and companies routinely ignore contracts anyway.
“There is a looming world war with tensions in Ukraine and Taiwan, and the UAW wants to tie us behind Biden’s reckless military escalation. There is an ongoing pandemic that the government and the media want us to ignore because they want us in the factories to make profit for them.
“Now there are the job cuts by Ford, Stellantis and GM and the threat of an economic recession. The UAW is indifferent to the layoffs and has no intention of fighting them. Instead, he plans to offer lower wages in the name of “saving jobs. But all the UAW’s promises of job security have never come to anything. The same is happening everywhere. Ford is closing factories in Chennai, India, and Saarlouis, Germany, and the unions accept it.
“The capitalist system does not care about jobs but only about maximizing profits and putting pressure on every worker as much as it can. Unions support capitalism. But why operate in a system that protects corporate rights, not workers’ rights? We workers move society and it is we who can determine what kind of society we want to live in. The most dangerous idea for workers is to believe that what is will always be. If this capitalist system is not working, then we have to change the system.