By on August 20, 2019


Ren Cen. GM

There are so many accused and convicted players in the United Auto Workers corruption scandal, it would make for confusing viewing were it made into a film. Already, federal prosecutors have fingered or convicted numerous high-ranking UAW officials tied to the Fiat Chrysler file. Now, investigators are moving on to General Motors.

Apparently, not many stones needed turning before investigators uncovered rot underneath.

According to several media reports this week, the recent charges laid against former UAW official Mike Grimes — who worked in the union’s GM department before retiring last year — turned up a number of co-conspirators in the wire-fraud and money-laundering case. Grimes stands accused of arranging nearly $2 million in kickbacks. Investigators say he had help in securing the cash in exchange for juicy contracts handed out to UAW contractors.

On Monday, The Detroit News, citing a total of seven sources with knowledge of the investigation, identified Grime’s alleged co-conspirators as former UAW Vice President Joe Ashton and his top deputy, Jeff Pietrzyk — known as “Paycheck” to his colleagues. An apt nickname, it would seem.

Ashton, who has not been charged, is alleged to have accepted $550,000 in bribes and kickbacks, including a princely quarter-million sum from a UAW wristwatch contract. The 2013 watch deal — a $4 million order made through the UAW-GM training center — was intended to provide all GM hourly workers with a custom-made watch. Some 58,000 watches still linger in a Detroit warehouse, prosecutors stated in the charges filed against Grimes.

From Automotive News:

Still, federal investigators say, the deal accomplished what it was intended to do. The UAW official who arranged it collected a $250,000 kickback. Two others split $95,000 disguised as payments for “furniture.” That still left well over $1 million in profit for the vendor — a Philadelphia chiropractor who got into the watch business solely to recoup a bad loan he had made to a friend of one of the union officials.

All three men served on the 2011 UAW negotiating team that hammered out a labor contract with GM. Grimes was also present on the 2015 team, alongside former UAW prez Dennis Williams (accused of, but not charged with, approving the misuse of training center funds for lavish gifts and travel) and current VP Cindy Estrada. At the time, Grimes worked as Estrada’s administrative assistant.

Speaking to The Detroit News, Peter Henning, a former federal prosecutor and current law professor at Wayne State University, said the charges against Grimes and allegations of kickbacks among top officials, “raises questions about how vigorously they represented UAW members.”

“If they were willing to take kickbacks, they may have been more about protecting their own position than trying to get the best deal possible out of General Motors,” he said, adding, “They all have a bullseye on their back.”

[Image: General Motors]

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22 Comments on “UAW Corruption Probe Targets Union’s GM Department, Turns up a Warehouse of Watches...”

  • avatar

    High time, and looooooooooooooooooooong overdue.

    Hip Hip Hooray, for the DOJ!!!

    • 0 avatar

      Makes one wonder what took so long, and what triggered it.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m guessing that the previous administration did not want their DOJ to investigate the unions that put their candidate in office.

        The UAW is not the only union being targeted. It’s just the only union we hear and read about. I suspect there will be lots more indictments. And if President Trump gets re-elected, it will be Katie, bar the door! Because tha ca-ca will hit zee fan!

        Justice is not always doled out equally or impartially in America. More often Justice is doled out selectively in America, depending on who is in power at the time it is doled out.

        • 0 avatar

          Seems reasonable. I forgot how slowly justice moves.

        • 0 avatar

          ..Justice is not always doled out equally or impartially in America. More often Justice is doled out selectively in America, depending on who is in power at the time it is doled out…

          Absolutely true. And equally true is that such behavior happens regardless of which party is in power. Same swamp, different reptiles. The system is corrupted with dirty money. Only the benefactors change with political stripe.

          • 0 avatar

            Absolutely. Trump’s DOJ enforcing the law is just like when Obama’s DOJ and FBI tried to rig an election.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Time for the members to reject their leadership!

  • avatar

    It’s time for the UAW to hook up with the AFL-CIO. With Trumpka at the helm this kind of stuff would be impossible.

    I’ll see myself out.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Time to dust off Lord Acton’s dictum:

    ‘Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely’

  • avatar

    I’d like to see one of those watches – I’ll bet they’ll make cool conversation pieces once they’re sold off.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, they are quite stunning. Logos of Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Chevrolet, Saturn, Hummer, Saab, GEO, and GMC all set on a background of an outline ofof the United States. They are currently being updated to delete a few of the logos and to include an outline of China in the background. Work on them should be complete by 2021 or 2022.
      Due to increased availability, each GM worker may receive not one, but two of the completed watches, depending on the actual number of workers at the time of distribution.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I doubt those watches are union made. Hecho en China.

  • avatar

    It probably won’t stop the upcoming strike against GM. I know that was it intention.

  • avatar

    I’d bet those watches are made in the U.S. The politicians at Solidarity House stickle when it comes to that. They even wear clothes that are made in the U.S. Meanwhile most of the second- and third-tier rank-and-file workers can’t afford to buy American clothing.

  • avatar

    What took so long? Obvious. Osama would never touch the union that helped get him elected. 2 He spend billions bailing out GM primarily to save the union and it s size. A prepackaged bankruptcy would have been more efficient and more cleansing. The Pres would never touch that.

  • avatar

    The watches, did the Feds check them to see if they are good?

    Do they keep good time?

    They may run a little ‘fast’… “boss, according to my watch I’ve been here 9 hours, not 8”

    I’m sure the alleged kickbacks, if true, had absolutely no impact on the contract that was hammered out.

    Every country has selective justice–some more than others. It’s just that America is supposed to be the best!

    Probably still is. It’s just that today, in America the collective “demands” (many of them reasonable, like good drinking water, childhood immunizations, crime-free streets, and many NOT) exceed the collective “supply”

    Every day the gap widens. You see it everywhere. Trade deficit. Budget deficit. Crumbling roads. Poorer service.

    This is just another sign.

    But check those watches, to see what kind of time they keep. And why were they not handed out?

  • avatar

    If the allegations are true, I hope these people do time in prison.

    What they did is illegal—and potentially ‘defrauded’ thousands of dues-paying workers. Jail time baby, lots of it!

    That said, hedge fund owners and other big shooters on Wall Street, whose multi-million dollar earnings are taxed at lower rates than UAW workers and waitresses. That’s wrong, but legal.

    CEOs of companies that live off govt contracts, or had govt bailouts, making $20, $30, $50 million or more–that’s legal.

    That’s my take on ‘selective justice’. :)

  • avatar

    The “Motorist Observer” and “Detroit Free Press” have great coverage of a guy named Michael Grimes, who leveraged being an administrative assistant for the VP of HR at the UAW to get a few million in kickbacks for doling out trinket contracts to friends. He also netted himself a private mortgage. He positioned himself on the gravy train by convincing his chiropractor to go into the medical gadget business in order to fleece the rank and file.

    There are types of corruption that don’t happen in organizations that aren’t granted exclusivity by power seeking leftists. When that happens, you can identify the worst people because they’re the ones yelling that everybody does it.

  • avatar

    If convicted the union politician gets a light sentence in a white-collar prison.

  • avatar

    FBI raids house of President Jones.

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