About 141,000 members turned in ballots in the runoff, 33 percent more than in the first round of voting, to decide the race after none of the five original presidential candidates received more than 50 percent.
Fain was carried to victory by a disgruntled membership eager for change after years of illegal abuses of power by past leaders in a wide-ranging corruption scandal that tarnished the union’s reputation and cost it millions of dollars. Candidates running on Fain’s reform slate won seven of the possible 14 International Executive Board seats, while an independent candidate won an eighth seat, giving anti-establishment members a majority voting bloc on all of the board’s key decisions.
They’ll also lead upcoming contract negotiations with the Detroit 3 automakers and have promised to end what they perceive as a cozy relationship between management and past union leaders.
In separate runoffs, incumbent Chuck Browning, part of Curry’s leadership team, won the final vice president slot, while reformer Daniel Vicente won his race to become director of Region 9.
“I look forward to working together and leading our region into a new era,” Vicente said in a statement. “This election has shown that our members demand change – a union that places the working women and men at the forefront, that sheds the business management style union we have become, and returns us to the fighting working class UAW of our past.”
Fain will become the UAW’s fifth leader in five years. While he ran as a reformer, he has decades of experience in multiple leadership roles within the UAW, including as an international rep for 10 years.
He was part of negotiating teams with the Detroit 3 in 2009 and 2011.
“No matter what level I’ve served this union, I’ve always put the membership first,” Fain said last year when announcing his campaign. “I’m fed up with watching our union continue to lose ground in the most profitable years in the history of many of our companies.”
Curry, 57, was hand-picked in 2021 by the retiring Rory Gamble in part because he was a younger leader who could serve multiple terms. Curry implemented a number of financial ethics reforms in his prior position as secretary-treasurer and attempted to distance the union from its troubled past, but as president he ultimately failed to shake the stigma of being part of the same leadership caucus that produced former presidents – and convicted criminals – like Dennis Williams and Gary Jones.
“I want to express my deep gratitude to all UAW leaders and active and retired members for your many years of support and solidarity,” Curry said in a statement. “It has been the honor of my life to serve our great union. I am committed to ensuring that this transition is smooth and without disruptions. I wish [Fain], the entire UAW International Executive Board, staff and clerical support as well as UAW’s membership great success for the future.”