By on August 6, 2019

Former union vice president Norwood Jewel has become the highest ranking UAW member to be convicted of corruption charges in a federal investigation that has lasted four years and delivered prison sentences for eight people, including Fiat Chrysler’s former labor negotiator, Alphons Iacobelli. You might recall him from to his extravagant spending habits.

The probe amassed evidence showing UAW officials receiving extravagant gifts, private residences, vacations, parties, and even cash furnished by FCA. Bribes, essentially, to help draw union concessions. Investigators looked into claims that high-ranking UAW members received kickbacks after giving business executives contracts to produce union-branded chachkies (shirts, keychains, frisbees, etc) and concerns that union members’ donations to flower funds intended for funeral services were misappropriated by the leadership.

Ford and General Motors are also under the microscope, with both saying they’re in full cooperation with authorities and cannot comment further. 

As for Jewell, he was found guilty of receiving illegal gifts and benefits from Fiat Chrysler executives that included a $2,182 shotgun, $8,927 for a two months in a Palm Springs villa with a private pool and hot tub, a $25,065 party with with hostesses and wine bottles featuring Jewell’s name on the label, and more. It’s estimated he received roughly $95,000 in “gifts” from FCA directly, with the possibility of more coming in via other channels.

Jewell was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for accepting bribes on Monday. He previously plead guilty to breaking federal labor laws last April.

In addition to the ongoing investigation of union-branded swag and flower funds, the feds are still looking into numerous UAW staffers — often after convicted parties starting giving up information. According to The Detroit News, this the investigation is far from over:

One of those people, former Jewell aide Nancy Adams Johnson, told investigators that [former UAW President Dennis] Williams directed subordinates to use funds from Detroit’s automakers, funneled through training centers, to pay for union travel, meals and entertainment.

As part of a plea agreement last year, Adams Johnson told investigators Williams made the directive to relieve pressure on the union’s budget.

“It’s an ongoing investigation and we’re not done,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider told reporters outside court. “We will continue to work on this until we’re confident that we have leadership in the UAW that represents the men and women of the union and does what they’re supposed to do.”

The ongoing corruption scandal entangling also embroiled the late CEO Sergio Marchionne and led to a shakeup of the top ranks of the Detroit-based auto industry.

Meanwhile, FCA is negotiating a settlement deal that would put an end to a criminal investigation trying to uncover whether executives conspired to pay bribes and break labor laws during a years-long conspiracy with the UAW. The negotiations hinge on Fiat Chrysler agreeing to government oversight for up to five years, paying less than $50 million in penalties and making institutional changes to emerge from the bribery scandal to emerge as a better company.

The Detroit News has photos of the evidence used against Jewell, additional corruption details that will make your head spin, and some pretty ugly language coming from all sides. If you like a good scandal, it’s worth a read.

[Image: James R. Martin/Shutterstock]

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24 Comments on “UAW Corruption Probe Continues as Jewell Heads to Prison...”

  • avatar

    My experience was that local UAW domos lived like junior potentates because they made serious dough being on the clock for huge numbers of hours. Big houses, big cars and trucks, and big boats. There was plenty of scraps fed to the rank and file to buy election votes too.

    • 0 avatar

      All those people who bad-mouthed the UAW (and Unions in general) may have been onto something that their detractors did not know about, or did not want to know about.

      Ignorance is bliss, so they say.

      “If you like a good scandal, it’s worth a read.”

      I did read it, and it is worth a read! And there are related stories if you run it past DuckDuckGo.

      Glad to see this finally brought into the open. I’m just amazed that it took this long.

  • avatar

    A “tchotchke” is a trinket, knick-knack, or other small item.

    A (Violet) “chachkie” is the winner of Season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

    Better try that spellchecker before hitting “post”, you guys. :P

  • avatar

    What a shame all around. As always, the workers were the losers. Paying dues to an entity that’s supposed to be protecting you, but instead is screwing you.

  • avatar

    What a shame all around. As always, the workers were the losers. Paying dues to an entity that’s supposed to be protecting you, but instead is screwing you.

    • 0 avatar

      It is to laugh. Labor thinks it’s unfair that capital and management are being enriched by their efforts, so they added another group of highly compensated people with clean shoes to the division of spoils. And this one contributes absolutely nothing to the industry’s output!

  • avatar

    The UAW’s elected officials are politicians; the leaders of any union are politicians; and all politicians have similar traits and character flaws.

    After the officials develop a taste for the high life, the worst thing they can possibly imagine is to lose an election and be forced to return to honest work on the factory floor. So they take bribes and put money in offshore havens, hoping that if the worst happens they will have accumulated sufficient ill-gotten gains to retire rather than return to the factory.

    Same goes for most congressmen methinks.

  • avatar


    If any of the UAW officials are reading this, you just gave them another revenue stream.

  • avatar

    VEBA ~ Very Expensive Bribes Allotted.

  • avatar

    I wonder how many of these auto executives decried and despised the union as a corrupt and parasitic institution while deliberately providing the bribes that facilitate the corruption? Like the john who blames the prostitute for his infidelity.

    In today’s climate, with almost any regulation that threatens profits in the crosshairs of the administration, I am surprised that this prosecution has gotten this far.

  • avatar

    I take it this kind of stuff used to happen “out in the open”, in most industries, but at some point went behind closed doors or stopped all together.

    In 1990 I attended a huge Annual Christmas dinner, benefiting the Highway Patrol, $200 a plate, along with my boss, coworkers and our guests, just for invited tow companies, with several dozen companies attending.

    So after diner, each tow company’s gifts were presented to randomly chosen officers, usually gift certificates to spa days, restaurants, trips, window tint, but also leather jackets, watches, etc.

    It went on for hours and I just wanted to get out of there. It took 45 minutes just to go through the gifts from the biggest tow company attending. Terribly disgusting. And a “different time”.

    • 0 avatar

      Naw, not a different time. It’s happening now, today, but it has gone underground and is much harder to ferret out than ever before. especially in the business world.

      The freebies that are handed out in the Real Estate business to gain favor and curry profits truly are insane, but generally never come to light. Nobody knows they exist unless they collect on one.

      We belong to two Resort Clubs (which I’m not going to name because we do not want to incur their wrath) and we get like 100,000 points each per year, which we use to stay at those Resorts FOR FREE, all over the world.

      So why should the auto industry union, or any other industry be any different.

      It’s called PERKS. They’re everywhere, they’re everywhere!

      We used to give away these freebies to our best Management customers, like a week in a luxury 4-BR 4-BTH Condo with private pool and spa in Cancun, (or anywhere else for that matter) so some of these old geezers could take their young, firm and smooth girlfriends in dental-floss bikinis on a vacation of their dreams and clear their plumbing while they’re at it.

      All in the hopes of currying favor and more business from them.

      Difference was, we didn’t do it with Union funds.

    • 0 avatar

      Tax codes are written to pay for these activities. Most of it is just called marketing expense.

    • 0 avatar

      Here in California we have the CHP 11-99 foundation.

      For a $2500 donation (For another $1000 you can add your spouse) you get:

      Personalized Wall Plaque
      11-99 License Plate Frame (1 per person)
      Leather Wallet with Brass 11-99 ID Card
      Plastic ID Card

      The Badge Wallet has a second pocket for your Drivers License so you don’t have to fumble around when presenting your license to the officer.

      You see these license plate frames on a fair number of high end cars in the bay area. But not so much on Camaros, Mustangs or Chargers.

      And for tax deduction purposes the FMV (fair market value) of the items you receive is listed as $300 on the foundation website.

      Also there is a “confidential license plate” program available to many california state public employees and all LEOs. Google it for interesting reads

      • 0 avatar

        I had a great time at the 1199 Foundation gala on Paradise Island. I met various politicians, sampled exotic cars from Ferrari, Maserati and Maybach, and feasted on good food and drink. Totally worth the money. Plus, no DUI on the way home! California is a third world country. They have the biggest income inequality, the worst schools, the most poverty, and your quality of life is determined by your zip code. I wish all states could be blue states!

      • 0 avatar

        When my #2 son left the Marine Corps he became a CHiP, and we donated a lot money to the foundation over several years. But we lived out of State (NM) so we never got all that stuff listed. They did take our money though.

        After 12 years my son left the CHiP and entered Federal Civil Service where he still is today.

        My grandson is married to a lady CHiP who worked her way up from Deputy Sheriff (San Diego North County) to patrol officer Interstate 5, but we have not made a similar contribution.

  • avatar

    I have always stated that the UAW is the appropriate, gritty counterbalance to the self-serving, America-hurting, stupidity of the “elite” of the Big-3 executive, career-climber, chocolate suckers.

    Mother nature is all about balance.

    With intelligent, statesman leadership, I would actually like to see the UAW prosper.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    This does not surprise me. It is too tempting for many who get in a position of power to abuse their position whether they are in politics, business, or in this case a labor union. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  • avatar

    I’m not surprised by this in the least. I’m really surprised that FBI even cares. Corruption is their MO. They normally only go after the good and the helpless.

  • avatar

    “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” -George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.”

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Like your quote, so true.

  • avatar

    The UAW was in good hands back in the days of Walter Reuther. But after he was assassinated(?) on May 9, 1970, it rapidly went to hell.

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