New UAW chief takes helm

LORDSTOWN – Robert Morales listened intently Tuesday morning as a past local president and other union officials offered words of advice inside the United Auto Workers Local 1714 union hall.

It was just moments before the new president would raise his right hand to take the oath of office in a small ceremony at the Salt Springs Road union hall. A handful of supporters and a few retirees gathered for the event.

“It’s a great day,” the onlookers called out as he shook hands with UAW regional representative Rich Rankin.

Morales attributed his win over a UAW presidential incumbent – a feat that does not occur often – partly to his campaign promise to know all three shifts of the plant’s membership.

The first-shift material handler already is making good on the promise, noting that he has paid visits to all three shifts since last week’s election to meet and thank the members personally for their support.

“We are going to continue to build relationships in the communities and to communicate and deal with the public. The relationship between the UAW and the community is vital,” he said.

Morales, of Boardman, has worked at the Lordstown complex for 18 years, serving as vice president of the 1,500-member Local from 2009 to 2012.

He defeated incumbent president Dave Green in a special run-off election last week that had been called for a year after Green started his third term. The International UAW ordered the run-off election following Green’s defeat of Morales last year. Several appeals were filed on that election with the International UAW. Messages left with the International UAW seeking comment on the appeals and process were not returned.

Morales defeated Green by about 75 votes and now will serve the remaining two years of the three-year term.

Green, who served as local president since 2007, will maintain his seniority and return to his job in the fabricating plant where he had worked before taking over as president.

He wished his successor luck and expressed his gratitude at being able to serve the membership for the past six years.