DETROIT—Members of the United Auto Workers union have overwhelmingly approved picking their leaders by direct ballot elections, rejecting a system that many blamed for a bribery and embezzlement scandal in the union’s top ranks.
The “one member, one vote” measure got about 64 percent of 140,586 valid ballots that were received by Monday’s mail-in deadline. Only about 36 percent favored the current system of leadership picked by delegates to a convention, according to results released Dec. 2.
The results are not official until approved by the Labor Department and a federal judge.
A court-appointed monitor will develop rules and oversee the election of the union’s 13-member International Executive Board, which includes the president, three vice presidents, secretary-treasurer and regional directors. All current board members including President Ray Curry are expected to run.
The monitor, Neil Barofsky, in a statement that the election is likely to take place in the summer or fall of 2022.
The change is dramatic for the 86-year-old union with 397,000 members nationwide. In the past, union leaders were chosen every four years at a convention, with the delegates picked by local union offices. But the new slate of leaders is picked by the outgoing president, and seldom has there been any serious opposition.
Barofsky was appointed by a federal judge earlier this year as part of a settlement that avoided a government takeover of the union after a wide-ranging bribery and embezzlement scandal. The vote on direct election of leaders also was part of the settlement.
Eleven union officials and a late official’s spouse have pleaded guilty in the corruption probe since 2017, including the two UAW presidents, Gary Jones and Dennis Williams. Both were sentenced to prison.