The UAW’S New Face

In March 2023, Shawn Fain was elected president of the United Auto Workers. His election ushered in a new era of leadership at the union – but it’s not clear if it’s for the better. Fain and his team of appointed officials may be more radical than the auto workers they represent realize.

When Shawn Fain was sworn in as president, he used his first public statement to declare corporations and employers the UAW’s “one and only true enemy” and called on membership to “ready themselves for war.” Fain himself credits his election as president to the efforts of Unite All Workers for Democracy (UAWD) – a left-wing caucus in the UAW’s membership that endorsed and campaigned for Fain in 2022. UAWD is endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

Fain’s Right Hand-Men

Chris Brooks, Fain’s chief strategist, is an admitted socialist and a member of the DSA with a history of praising dictators such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. He’s said that police officers “aren’t workers” and called for “defunding and disbanding the police.” Brooks is even considered to be a radical by his peers. Some of the early members of Fain’s team left over fears that Brooks was too aggressive. Prior to joining Fain’s team, Brooks was a journalist and organizer for the New York journalists union.

Benjamin Dictor, the UAW chief counsel, is a partner at a New York law firm. He has accused Israel of conducting an “ethnic cleansing” and a “literal holocaust” in its response to the October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks. Dictor is also a signatory on a letter encouraging Iran to develop nuclear technology.

Jonah Furman, the union’s communications director, is a longtime writer for a number of left-wing outlets such as Labor Notes and Jacobin. He’s a DSA member, an advocate for defunding and prosecuting the police, and veteran of the campaigns of self-described socialists Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Occasio-Cortez.