When Rory Gamble took over as president of the United Auto Workers in 2019, the union was embroiled in a federal corruption probe that had ensnared two of Gamble’s predecessors.
It had just endured a 40-day strike against General Motors. And then the viral pandemic erupted, forcing auto plants to halt production and idle its workers for weeks until safety precautions were adopted.
It won’t get any easier for Gamble’s successor, Ray Curry. He will preside over a union that faces monumental changes as the auto business navigates an epochal transition from internal combustion engines to battery-electric powered vehicles.
Yet the 65-year-old Gamble insists he is leaving the UAW in solid shape, with, among other things, financial safeguards in place to help prevent corruption.
He cautions, though, that it is critical for the union to organize battery and electric vehicle component factories and to secure decent wages for workers in the face of the automakers’ efforts to reduce labor costs.
“It’s real essential to the economic future of this country that we maintain good-paying auto manufacturing jobs with good wages that are protected with great benefits,” Gamble told The Associated Press.
Gamble spoke with the AP on Wednesday, his last day of work, about the future of the union.