Flint (02/13/20) - It's a new day and that means new leadership for one of the largest groups of workers in the country.
UAW Region 1D represents 49,000 members and 100,000 retirees all across Michigan.
The new director is a familiar face, one who has services as assistant director at Region 1D since 2010.
Steve Dawes was elected to represent workers in mid-Michigan but also workers in west Michigan, the Upper Peninsula and northern portions of the Lower Peninsula.
The UAW went on strike in 1998 for 54 days. In the crowd of people you'll likely spot Dawes who, by this time, was working at AC Spark Plug where he spent the majority of his career.
He was on the skilled trades committee negotiating team, helping to create a solution.
"I think the challenges are still the same," Dawes said. "Educating our members is huge."
He grew up in Clio and Mt. Morris Township. Dawes has held on to his roots. Namely by honoring those who participated in the Flint sit-down strike of 1936 and '37. On a day where he's elected director of UAW Region 1D, their sacrifices are still on his mind.
"I look at the faces of them people and all they were looking for was hope," Dawes said. "They were looking for someone to have their voice at the table."
Members of the UAW are looking forward to what Dawes will bring to the table in a time when the UAW has come under a lot of scrutiny.
President of Local 651, Brett Baker, says his members have high hopes for this next chapter with Dawes.
"I think that he'll really add a piece of integrity, and his leadership skills will really cement about what the UAW will means and bring back that integrity piece to the organizations," Baker said.
Dawes was elected UAW Local 651 vice president, but shortly after that he took over as president.
He was re-elected as president of the Local in 2002.
Dawes looks to be the voice of the people as the UAW comes off of last year's 40-day strike. One that he thought was successful for the membership.
"We still maintained a lot of programs as far as quality control," Dawes said. "But I seen something I had never seen before during that period of time. I seen solid put back in solidarity with our members."
Dawes is filling the remaining term of former Region 1D Director Gerald Kariem. Kariem is now director of the UAW Ford Department.