United Auto Workers Leadership Campaigns For Bayh

Oct 3, 2016

United Auto Workers president Dennis Williams speaks to members in Kokomo on Monday.
Credit Annie Ropeik / Indiana Public Broadcasting

The head of the United Auto Workers was in Indiana on Monday, urging union members to vote for Democratic Senate candidate Evan Bayh.

His tour included a stop in Kokomo, where big Chrysler and GM plants make the UAW local the largest in Indiana and Ohio, with around 7,000 members.

UAW international president Dennis Williams told a group of them he hasn't always agreed with Evan Bayh. But he said this year, Bayh's pro-labor history sets him apart -- Bayh passed collective bargaining as Indiana governor in the 1980s.

"And the fact that you give people the right to have a voice in the workplace -- that's the content of somebody's character," Williams says.

Under Bayh's Republican successors, collective bargaining gave way to measures that weakened union power, such as the Right to Work.

Those are not likely to be repealed next year, but Williams says that Bayh would be a good national ally for Indiana labor, as opposed to his Republican rival, Congressman Todd Young.

Williams says Young and the GOP presidential ticket of Donald Trump and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence are a "trifecta" that would be bad for jobs and wages.

Meanwhile, regional UAW director Ken Lortz stressed that members need to consider the importance of every race in November.

"We gotta make sure we do our job and elect the right people -- in the United States Senate, governor of the state of Indiana, the president, all the way down the ticket," Lortz says. "We've got a lot of work to do."

Indiana's unions are already working together on canvassing and phone banking to get out the vote among members across the state. Most unions, including the UAW, have also endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton for president.