GM, Ford Cooperating As Federal Investigators Look Into Possible UAW Corruption

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
gm ford cooperating as federal investigators look into possible uaw corruption

A federal investigation that started with corruption charges against a former Fiat Chrysler labor executive and the wife of a deceased United Auto Workers vice president has expanded to include training centers created by both General Motors and Ford. Investigators issued subpoenas in recent weeks to amass information on the centers, which are jointly operated between the automakers and the UAW.

In the FCA case, company and union officials are alleged to have misappropriated an estimated $4.5 million earmarked for employee training. That money is believed to have gone into personal accounts and used to buy suspiciously extravagant items. The FBI appears to be concerned that similar activities could be happening at Ford and GM-backed training sites.

While the federal probe into Ford is less than clear, The Detroit News reports that authorities are “interested” in Joe Ashton, a retired UAW vice president who was eventually appointed to GM’s board, and Cindy Estrada, his successor in charge of the union’s GM department since 2014.

Ford has stated it is cooperating with the investigation and seems unconcerned that something might be wrong at its training center. When the union corruption charges emerged against FCA employees over the summer, Ford said it had no intention of reviewing the finances of the UAW-Ford National Programs Center. It reiterated that statement this week, saying it has confidence in the site’s current leadership.

General Motors has also said it will be working with authorities, simultaneously launching an internal investigation of is own, while the FBI and UAW have yet to make public statements on the matter. The automaker also suspended Alphons Iacobelli, the former FCA employee involved in the original corruption investigation, in August.

Officials believe that Iacobelli was at the center of a plot where, from 2009 through 2014, he pocketed $1 million and helped syphon $1.2 million from the UAW-Chrysler center to former UAW Vice President General Holiefield, who has since died.

Iacobelli and Holiefield, who led contract negotiations between the manufacturer and the union in 2011, and others used a charity, multiple businesses (including fake hospices), and credit cards to hide the money provided by FCA to the training center and use it personal purchases. That money was allegedly used to pay for a mortgage, numerous vacations, camera equipment, a $350,000 Ferrari 458 Spider, two Montblanc pens costing $37,500 apiece, and more.

Join the conversation
3 of 11 comments
  • Civicjohn Civicjohn on Nov 03, 2017

    Man, they better get into TSLA fast!

  • Conundrum Conundrum on Nov 03, 2017

    I love to see how people manage to extend the behavior of a crooked FCA executive and an equally crooked UAW official to blanket condemnation of unions. I'd say oligarch propaganda has become ingrained in the general populace. Grunt, grunt, unions bad, working in an Amazon warehouse for $12 an hour, now, baby, that's freedom!

    • Mikey Mikey on Nov 04, 2017

      @conundrum... Right ! "Investigators issued subpoenas in recent weeks to amass information on the centres , which are jointly operated between the automakers and the UAW" I too am shocked . Who knew high level white collar folks would ever skim off the top ? In my years at the plant we heard many nasty rumours. It wasn't uncommon to hear, or witness, mid -level white collar guys being escorted out the door...Something about "kick backs" from suppliers ???

  • Cprescott I remember when Fords were affordable.
  • Cprescott As a once very LOYAL FORD buyer, I had to replace my 22 year old Ford (bought new in 1997) once it finally started to have problems at 180k miles. I would have gladly purchased something like this from Ford but they abandoned me as a car buyer. Oddly, Hyundai still builds cars in a variety of flavors so I became a customer of theirs and am very happy. Likely will consider another once this one gets up in mileage.
  • SCE to AUX A friend once struck a mounted tire that was laying flat in the middle of her lane on the PA Turnpike. She was in a low late-90s Grand Prix, and the impact destroyed the facia, core support, radiators, oil pan, transmission, subframe, and suspension. They fixed it all.
  • Dukeisduke Lol, it's not exactly a Chevrolet SS with Holden badging.
  • Dukeisduke Years ago, I was driving southbound along North Central Expressway (south of Mockingbird Lane, for locals), and watched a tire and wheel fall out of the bed of a pickup (no tailgate), bounce along, then centerpunch the front end of a Honda Accord. It wasn't pretty.