United Auto Workers Secretary-Treasurer Ray Curry has been elected president of the union.
Curry, 55, was picked by the union’s International Executive Board on Monday. He will replace Rory Gamble, who retires on Wednesday.
Gamble led the 397,000-member union through a bribery and embezzlement scandal and the coronavirus pandemic, in which the union agreed to keep auto factories running with numerous safety precautions. He was the union’s first Black president, and Curry will be the second.
Curry will be replaced as secretary-treasurer by Frank Stuglin, 61, who now is director of a union region covering the Detroit area.In a statement, Curry said he would continue to build on a commitment of transparency, reforms, and checks and balances in the wake of the scandal.
Curry, who takes office Thursday, said he would work with Gamble to make the leadership transition smooth. "We are both dedicated to the reforms that we have put in place for the UAW," said Curry, who was involved in financial and ethics reforms under Gamble.
Curry doesn’t come from the traditional leadership path that begins at one of the Detroit automakers. He joined the UAW in 1992 as an assembler at Freightliner Trucks in Mount Holly, North Carolina, and worked his way up to regional director in the South.
He negotiated new labor contracts with numerous auto parts makers, and helped to organize Freightliner factories in North Carolina, according to his biography on the union’s website. He also led the union’s move into casinos in 2015 when the UAW successfully organized workers at the Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore.
Curry was named secretary-treasurer at the union’s convention in 2018, replacing Gary Jones, who became president and earlier this month was sentenced to 28 months in federal prison in the embezzlement scandal.
Curry likely will have to face election within the coming year. Under an agreement to avoid a federal takeover, the union agreed to hold an election for members to decide whether they will vote directly for their leaders. Historically the president was picked by delegates to a convention after a four-year term and the outcome was seldom in doubt. That election has to take place by Nov. 12. If members approve direct voting, then members will vote by June of next year.