DETROIT, Michigan: In an election triggered by a federal bribery and embezzlement scandal involving former United Auto Workers (UAW) union officials, reformist candidates won several seats and could win a majority.
In unofficial results posted this week on a federal court-appointed monitor's website, reform challengers took six of 14 seats on the union's International Executive Board.
Depending upon the outcome of three runoff elections, they could win as many as eight, including the presidency, and gain a majority.
The reform candidates campaigned on taking a more confrontational stance in bargaining with Detroit's three automakers, General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, likely raising costs that would be passed on to consumers.
As workers seek a larger share of billions of dollars in profits, costs likely would have increased even without the election.
In the race for president, incumbent Ray Curry defeated challenger Shawn Fain by 614 votes, with 38.2 percent of the vote. compared to Fain's 37.6 percent. But neither gained a majority, so a runoff election will be held in January.
Mike Booth and Rich Boyer took two of three vice president slots, while Margaret Mock ousted current Secretary-Treasurer Frank Stuglin.
Reform-minded candidates also took three regional director slots, with another due for a runoff.
Winners will be sworn in on 12th December.
In an interview, Fain said the election puts the companies on notice "to get ready. We are coming for you. It is just a fact that over the years our leadership has become way too close to management," he said, as quoted by Reuters.
In a statement, Curry's slate said that it was fighting for all active and retired members, stating, "Our member expectations are high, and our team has the experience and proven track record to both build coalitions for the fight and deliver results."
The election came after union members, in December, decided to directly vote on leaders for the first time, instead of having them picked by delegates to a convention.