Ballots for UAW referendum election due on Monday

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the total ballots received in the United Auto Workers election after incorrect information was published in a public report. There have been more than 138,000 ballots received as of Nov. 23.

The deadline for when United Auto Workers members can submit their vote on whether to implement direct elections of international union leaders or maintain the current delegate-based system is on Monday.

Ballots were sent out in late October based on membership lists supplied by the UAW, which has no role in counting or reporting the referendum. The ballots must be returned — not postmarked — by 10 a.m. on Nov. 29 to the independent election vendor, Merriman River Group. As soon as practicable after that, Merriman River Group will begin tabulating the results under the supervision of the UAW monitor and the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Individuals or groups that registered with the monitor to advocate in support of one side of the referendum question or another also were able to register with the monitor to observe the ballot counting in accordance with the federal Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act.

The election brought on by a corruption scandal within the UAW could reshape the leadership of one of the country's most influential unions with nearly 1 million members and retirees. The governing International Executive Board has been dominated for 70 years by the Reuther or Administrative Caucus, which is advocating for the continuation of the system in which local unions elect delegates to represent them at a constitutional convention where the international leaders are selected.

Advocates for the direct "one member, one vote" model say it will make officials more accountable to members, though some fear it could weaken the union at the bargaining table and open the way for other types of corruption through campaign finances, which aren't addressed on the ballot.

The direct election system still would use local union delegates to adopt resolutions, decide constitutional changes and elect international trustees.

The monitor, New York attorney Neil Barofsky, will announce the unofficial results once tabulation is complete. OLMS and the federal district court must approve the final results. As of Nov. 23, more than 138,000 ballots had been received, according to the recent monitor's six-month report.

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble