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Dennis Williams was elected secretary-treasurer of the UAW at the union's 35th Constitutional Convention on June 16, 2010 in Detroit.
His union experience has carried him through the many diverse sectors of the UAW, giving him broad knowledge and understanding that few ever have a chance to accomplish. Williams, a United States Marine Corp veteran, joined UAW Local 806 in 1977 at J.I. Case where he was a salvage welder. He was elected to the bargaining committee and as chairman.
In 1988, Williams was appointed as an international representative and assigned to the National Organizing Department. Besides organizing, his assignments included negotiating the first contract at Mitsubishi Motors North America in Bloomington, Ill. He also assisted in organizing Indiana state employees. He spent 2 1/2 years assisting members of Local 844 in Vermont, Ill., obtain a first contract, this worker justice campaign involved legal action and extensive mobilization of union members and community allies.
In 1992, Region 4 Director Bill Stewart assigned Williams to service locals in various sectors throughout the region, including Agricultural Implements, Independent Parts and Supplier (IPS), and Technical, Office and Professional (TOP). He also assisted in the negotiation and servicing of several national agreements, including J.I.Case. In June 1995, Williams was appointed as the assistant director of Region 4 by Regional Director Paul Korman, where he served until his election as director.
In 2001, he was elected UAW Region 4 Director at a special convention. He was re-elected in June 2002 and in June 2006 at the UAW Constitutional Convention in Las Vegas. Region 4 includes Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Throughout his life Williams has been politically active. As director he was a strong advocate for workers’ rights, through political action, organizing and contract bargaining. He developed strategies that supported and elected political leaders that safeguard labor unions in the states of Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. In Illinois he led coalitions that successfully pushed Unemployment-Tech bill legislation which became law in 2005. This groundbreaking law gave locked out workers the right to unemployment benefits.
Against all odds, Williams was a key factor in the election of Gov. Chet Culver of Iowa when others said it was an impossible task. In 2007 he was central in orchestrating then-candidate Barack Obama’s upset win in Iowa that launched his successful candidacy for United States presidency.
When his home plant closed in 1988, Brother Williams became, and remains, a member of UAW Local 807 in Burlington, Iowa.