published Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Williams picked as UAW president; Casteel chosen secretary-treasurer

Dennis Williams was elected as the next United Auto Workers president at the union's constitutional convention Wednesday in Detroit. was elected as the next United Auto Workers president at the union's constitutional convention Wednesday in Detroit.

Also, Gary Casteel, a Tennessean who led efforts to unionize Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant, was chosen as the union's new secretary-treasurer, according to the Detroit News.

Williams, the union's outgoing secretary-treasurer, defeated Gary Walkowicz, a longtime union worker from Ford's Dearborn Truck Plant who has been outspoken about many of the UAW's policies and a perennial presidential challenger.

"It's humbling," Williams said following his victory. "I'm excited for our union."

Williams, 61, earned 3,215 of the 3,270 votes. He'll be sworn in today and make his first official remarks as president.

He's credited with fixing the finances of the UAW as it emerged from the Great Recession and now faces more daunting tasks as the union prepares for negotiations with Detroit automakers next year and redoubles efforts to organize foreign automakers.

The former Marine and salvage welder has close ties to President Barack Obama.

Casteel, 56, a second-generation UAW member, was elected director of UAW's Region 8 -- which covers the Southeast -- in 2002 and is a member of Local 3036 in Memphis. He was a servicing representative for union members at a number of independent parts firms.

The UAW lost the organizing vote at VW's Chattanooga plant by a tally of 712 to 626, but officials have pledged to try again.

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