Letter to UAW members from Will Lehman: Curry team violates election rules amid reports of voter suppression

The following letter was sent by United Auto Workers presidential candidate Will Lehman to UAW members on November 9. It includes a separate letter sent by Lehman to the court-appointed Monitor overseeing the elections.

The deadline to mail in ballots in the UAW election to ensure that they are counted is in one week, November 18. The deadline for requesting a ballot is November 11. If you have not received a ballot, go to uawvote.com and request one immediately. For more information on Lehman’s campaign, visit WillforUAWPresident.org.

Fellow workers:

My campaign has heard from many of you who have not received ballots for the election of the UAW president and national officers and from others who report concerning information about attempts by the UAW apparatus to suppress the vote.

Today, the court-appointed Monitor that is overseeing the elections announced that the slate of incumbent UAW President Ray Curry (which opposed direct elections in the first place) violated federal law and the rules of the UAW election by using union resources to promote his campaign.

We must fight these violations and protect the right to vote! I am asking each of you to tell all your coworkers: You have a right to vote, your ballot must be postmarked November 18, and the deadline to request a ballot if you have not received one is November 11—this Friday.

I sent the following email to the Monitor today demanding action to ensure workers have the right to vote. To contact my campaign about this or any other issue, write to willforuawpresident@gmail.com.


Dear Mr. Barofsky:

I write to bring to your attention serious concerns that UAW members are raising with my campaign over the fairness of the election for international office. The official vote tally shows that only 83,377 members have voted so far—less than 8 percent of the total membership, and each day the tally increases by only a couple thousand votes. It is clear that a substantial portion of the 1 million-plus UAW membership either doesn’t know there is an election, doesn’t know they are eligible to vote or hasn’t received a ballot.

This, combined with the fact that your office has now reported that Ray Curry’s slate was found to have violated Election Rule 4-6 and has used union resources to help Curry, shows that something must be done to change course and ensure a fair election.

Here is what workers report:

1. Many workers have not yet received ballots.

My campaign has received reports from UAW members across the country who say they have not received ballots yet. When my volunteers campaign at plants, they are told by a substantial section of workers that ballots have not been received.

This raises very serious questions as to delays in the mailing of ballots, especially considering the fact that the UAW election coincided with a federal election conducted largely through the mail. Workers must be given a fair chance to have their votes count.

2. The Monitor’s mechanism for requesting ballots is failing.

Multiple UAW members have contacted my campaign to explain that they attempted to call the Monitor’s help line multiple times or submit requests for ballots online, but they have still not received ballots.

One UAW member in New York wrote me to say, “I have reached out to 4 people about this.” The worker said, “I never received a ballot” after calling the help line “multiple times.” “I’ve also requested a ballot via the link that I was sent, but I still have received nothing in the mail.”

Another UAW member from Local 551 said they still had not received a ballot despite making their initial request for one over two weeks ago and calling the hotline three times. A member from Local 79 said, “If I could get a ballot I would vote, I’ve asked twice for a ballot and haven’t got one.” This is clearly a common experience, and unless it is addressed, it risks disenfranchising thousands and thousands of members.

3. Workers report UAW officials are telling them the deadline to mail ballots was October 28.

Workers in at least two plants—GM Arlington in Texas and Mopar in Centerline, Michigan—are informing my campaign that UAW officials are telling eligible voters that the deadline to mail in their ballots was October 28 and that they need not send their ballots now because it is too late. This is not the correct deadline. If an investigation confirms what workers report, this would amount to a violation of federal law and of workers’ right to vote.

4.  There is no accountability for the UAW’s false claim that TPTs cannot vote.

TPTs in at least two Stellantis plants—Detroit Assembly Complex-Jefferson and Detroit Assembly Complex-Mack—reported that UAW officials are spreading rumors that TPTs are ineligible to vote. This would be a lie aimed at suppressing the vote of the most poorly treated workers. My campaign notified your office of this on November 1, and you responded to say you had requested that UAW locals inform their members that TPTs can vote and that ballots must be sent by November 18.

But your office has not said what specific measures are being taken to ensure the UAW locals actually do inform their memberships of impending deadlines and of TPT voter eligibility in an effective way. Placing notices on websites nobody goes to does not count as providing fair notice. The absence of any real enforcement mechanisms would mean the UAW apparatus is not being held accountable for what would be a violation of federal law.

There is evidence that the UAW apparatus is not taking action to clarify any confusion.

The UAW International has not even published anything on its website nor has it even issued a single communication informing members of impending deadlines or of the right of TPTs to vote on its official Twitter and Facebook pages.

For example, Local 7 (the local for the Stellantis Jefferson plant) has published a statement on its website about the election which does not state that TPTs have the right to vote. Its “Events calendar” still makes no reference to any impending deadlines. A review of all local websites and social media pages shows the overwhelming majority do not reference either issue. It is clear as day that the UAW is trying to keep workers from learning about the election.

5. Ray Curry’s campaign was found to have violated election rules.

How can the UAW be in charge of correcting these issues when your office has just ruled that the Ray Curry campaign is violating federal law by using UAW resources to promote Curry’s campaign? In an email dated November 9, your office informed my campaign about “an Election Rules violation by the Curry Solidarity Team Slate.”

You wrote that after an investigation, the Monitor ruled that the Curry team violated federal law by sending a campaign email to hundreds of workers on a list that was “obtained from a Union resource.” You wrote that “The Curry Solidarity Team Slate violated Election Rule 4-6, which makes clear that federal law prohibits the use of Union resources, including contact lists that were created or compiled as part of official duties or functions, to promote the candidacy of any person in a Union election.”

6. The UAW is making no effort to inform workers of the imminent deadline for requesting a ballot.

The UAW apparatus is making no real attempt to inform workers that they can request ballots if they have not received them yet. On the contrary, it seems they do not want workers to know the deadline for requesting a ballot is only one day away. The UAW website does not make any reference to requesting ballots for workers who have not received them yet, at least not one that is easy to access from their front page.

The UAW’s official Twitter account has not issued a single tweet about this. In fact, the UAW’s official Twitter account has only made a few tweets all year about the UAW elections, compared with 47 tweets promoting Administration Caucus candidate Ray Curry. Few UAW locals have information on their websites about requesting ballots, and those that do fail to mention that the deadline for requesting a new ballot is November 11.

7.  A UAW official intimidated voters at a plant in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

Last week, workers at the Metalsa parts plant in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, were intimidated from speaking to my campaign volunteers by UAW Local 3047 official Gary Parr, who called company security and began taking photos of nearby license plates in an attempt to intimidate workers from learning about my campaign. A similar act of intimidation took place in August, when a UAW Local 598 official instructed someone to photograph workers who had been talking to me about my campaign at GM Assembly in Flint, Michigan.

8.  The July 19 Monitor Status Report said the UAW apparatus was violating the consent decree.

What workers report is extremely concerning. The consent decree says there must be a fair, direct election, but your office already held that the UAW apparatus has violated the consent decree.

That status report your office issued on July 19, 2022 says that “the Monitor uncovered evidence that the Union’s leadership and its then-lawyers were concealing from the Monitor an investigation by the Union into the mishandling” of union money. When incumbent candidate for UAW President Ray Curry refused to disclose critical information to your office, you wrote that the Department of Justice told Curry he would “face action from the Department of Justice.” Your office also said there were 19 open investigations, including five new investigations in recent months.

Serious action must be taken. Only 8 percent of UAW members have voted, and your office has ruled that the Curry slate is violating the election rules. It is necessary to guarantee that every single eligible voter actually knows an election is taking place, that urgent measures be taken to ensure every single eligible voter receives a ballot at the correct address with enough time to mail it back, and that these matters be communicated to the entire UAW membership in a way that is guaranteed to actually inform them of their rights.

Will Lehman