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UAW delegates elect Steve Dawes for northern Michigan director

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

United Auto Workers delegates in northern and western Michigan on Thursday elected Steve Dawes, their assistant regional director, to lead Flint-based Region 1D.

Dawes has held the role of assistant director that covers 73 counties in the Upper Peninsula, the Thumb region, and northern and western Michigan since 2014. He worked under Gerald Kariem, who was appointed to UAW vice president and director of the Ford Motor Co. Department by the governing International Executive Board last month.

United Auto Workers delegates in northern Michigan elected Steve Dawes as their Region 1D director overseeing union members in 73 Michigan counties.

“Brother Dawes brings to the table vast experience in contract negotiations and a deep understanding of the region,” UAW President Rory Gamble said in a statement. “His work with Vice President Kariem to merge the cultures of both Region 1C and 1D helped create a strong, vibrant, combined region. He brings to the table, experience, knowledge and a deep sense of history.”

He previously was assistant director of Bay City-based Region 1C under Norwood Jewell, the former UAW vice president who is serving a 15-month sentence for accepting as much as $95,000 worth of illegal gifts and benefits from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV executives during a years-long labor conspiracy. Region 1C merged with 1D in 2013. Jewell was convicted for his actions from 2014 to 2016.

Former President Bob King appointed Dawes to Region 1C's assistant director during the UAW's constitutional convention in June 2010.

General Motors Co. hired Dawes in 1978 at the Flint Truck Assembly as a sport welder. He then became an apprentice toolmaker at AC Spark Plug in 1984 and began in 1989 moving up the leadership totem pole in Local 651. Former President Ron Gettelfinger appointed him to the Region 1C international staff in 2004.

Dawes also played a major role in the development, construction, and upkeep of the Sit-Down Memorial located at the Region 1D headquarters that commemorates the General Motors Co. work stoppage between December 1936 and February 1937 that marked the formation of a nationally organized United Auto Workers union.

“Every time I pull into the Regional Office, I have a living reminder of the sacrifice, solidarity, tenacity and guts that impacts our contracts and our standard of living today,” Dawes said in a statement. “It is an honor to be elected, but it is especially an honor to be a leader of this historic region where the Flint sit-down strike built the foundation of America’s middle class. It is a legacy and responsibility we will bring to every contract negotiation.”

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble