UAW delegates elect first female African American regional director
Laura Dickerson on Friday became the first African American woman to serve as head of a United Auto Workers region when delegates from Region 1A elected her to the 13-member International Executive Board.
Dickerson replaces Chuck Browning, who is now a UAW vice president and head of the Ford Department, following the retirement of Gerald Kariem. Region 1A covers most of Wayne County, including part of Detroit, as well as Monroe County and Washtenaw County. It extends to the Ohio border as well.
“It is humbling and an honor to stand here representing all Region 1A members and their families,'' Dickerson said in a statement. “Our focus will always be on serving our members, local unions and our retirees."
The Farmington Hills resident began as a member of the UAW in 1997 with Local 600 in Dearborn. She has held a number of leadership roles with her local and the national union and was chairperson of her unit. She also was project manager for the transition of UAW retiree health care to a voluntary employee beneficiary association in 2015.
“Laura Dickerson," Browning said in a statement, "brings to the Region a focus on the core values of service to our members, their families and communities, as well as, a strong knowledge of bargaining and interpreting collective bargaining contracts."
Dickerson has been a delegate to two UAW constitutional conventions, was president of Local 600's Technical, Office, and Professional Advisory Council and the National Citizenship and Legislative Advisory Council. She was on the Ford national negotiations team in 2011 and held other international roles, including the UAW-Ford Enhanced Care Program Pilot Lead in 2012.
“Director Dickerson brings to the International Executive Board a broad background from our TOP sector and experience in bargaining, health care, retiree benefits and our CAP political action program,” UAW President Ray Curry said in a statement. “She is a dedicated trade unionist with a solid background of member service, and I can’t be more proud to welcome her to the IEB.”
Dickerson has bachelor's and master's degrees from Central Michigan University. She volunteers with the Detroit Central United Methodist Feed the Homeless Initiative and, as a breast cancer survivor herself, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.