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UAW monitor publishes rules for first direct election

Breana Noble, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

Union and employer resources are the only prohibited sources of campaign funding. Contributors, whether individuals or entities, will be required to disclose their identity, whether supporting a candidate or a specific cause.

The monitor did consider restrictions such as a prohibition on funds from non-members or campaign contribution limits, "but ultimately determined that implementing these types of prohibitions was impractical given the short time available to prepare a campaign finance system for this Election," Barofsky wrote.

The rules do address the use of so-called flower funds. They originally were established to pay for flowers for autoworkers' funerals, but prosecutors have said that senior UAW staff were forced to contribute to the funds, The Detroit News previously reported.

"The Rules, applying to all funds intended to be used in connection with the Election regardless of when collected, may impact the ability of Candidates, Slates, or Covered Parties from utilizing multi-purpose funds, like some of the Union's Officers' so-called 'flower funds,' in connection with this Election," Barofsky wrote. "Such funds are not categorically prohibited, but the individuals seeking to utilize them in connection with the Election must demonstrate complete adherence to the True Source and True Purpose Rules, or the funds in question will not be usable."

One major question in how the election will be conducted will be left to delegates elected by local union chapters to the UAW's constitutional convention. Delegates will decide whether the vote will use ranked choice voting or a runoff.

Ranked choice voting is a system in which voters rank candidates for each office. If no candidate receives a majority, votes from candidates with the least amount of votes are redistributed to their second-choice candidates until a candidate obtains a majority.

A runoff would take the top two candidates for each office and require a second round of voting if there is no majority winner in the first.

Advocates for the ranked choice system say it would save the union millions of dollars on a second round of voting and prevent results from being delayed by months, Barofsky wrote. They also expressed concerns there would be a drop-off in the number of voters who participate in a runoff election.


The UAW's executive board, however, expressed concerns that ranked choice isn't used by other major unions and that it could result in the election of officers who aren't the first choice of the majority of voters, Barofsky noted.

If candidates receive a majority of votes, they will be sworn in within seven days of the unofficial results. If a runoff is needed, ballots will be distributed no later than January and returned and counted in February. Victors then would be sworn in within seven days of those unofficial results.

A forum will be held in September for the candidates running for international president.

The rules also forbid retaliation or threats by the international UAW, local unions or members against other members or employee for advocating for or donating to candidates or a slate.

The UAW monitor wrote the rules with input from the UAW's executive board, its counsel and other members.

In passage of the referendum, there were 140,586 votes cast of the UAW's nearly 1 million members. Direct elections passed with a nearly 64% majority.

As a part of the consent decree, the UAW is responsible for the cost of the reform efforts. The firm Jenner & Block for which Barofsky works was paid $1,951,258 for the first four months of work last year, according to a filing with the U.S. Labor Department.

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