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New Face Of UAW Stresses Membership Solidarity, Bridging Pay Gaps

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Newly elected UAW President Dennis WIlliams--file photo. (WWJ/Beth Fisher)

Newly elected UAW President Dennis WIlliams–file photo. (WWJ/Beth Fisher)

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UAW members rally for workers seeking union at Detroit's Crowne Plaza Hotel.

UAW members rally for workers seeking union at Detroit’s Crowne Plaza Hotel.

DETROIT (WWJ) – The UAW convention in downtown Detroit has come to a close.

Following the swearing in of the union’s new officers, attendees heard from Teamsters President James Hoffa, followed by newly-elected UAW President Dennis Williams delivering his inaugural address.

Williams said that he wanted to put Americans back to work and with contracts to negotiate next year with the Big Three automakers - there are many challenges ahead.

“This is our moment, this is our time to bridge the gap, to take back our country and move forward,” said Williams to the members gathered.

“To each and everyone of my brothers and sisters in the UAW and in the labor movement and those who want to take our country back – it’s time to get in the fight. It’s time to take on the challenge and never, never, never give up.”

Herb Taylor liked what he heard: “Dennis Williams is what is called for today – we have been giving and giving and giving and now it’s time for us to ask and get what we deserve.”

UAW workers hired after 2007 received lower pay. And Williams wants to close that gap and get higher wages for all members.

“We are all committed to eliminate the two-tier system, what that means right now, we don’t know – I use the term bridging the gap for a reason – it’s bridging the gap with our membership with the highest paid and lowest paid,” added Williams.

During his speech Williams told UAW members that he is calling on Congress to pass a jobs bill.

As the event concluded – several thousand union members walked to the Crowne Plaza Hotel for a solidarity rally – hospitality workers there are trying to unionize.

According to “Unite Here Local 24,” Representative Janee Ayers, the hotel  “is actually staffed by a temporary company and they pay people $8 an hour – so not only does it undercut the industry we’ve already established but it’s just a threat. The city doesn’t deserve that, we deserve full-time jobs that are paying people a living wage.”

The Crowne Plaza Hotel had no comment on the rally.

In addition to electing a new president this week, the union also approved a 25 percent dues increase.

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