As List of Charged Officials Grows, Acting UAW Boss Aims for Cleaner Than Clean
At this point, ensuring basic adherence to the law among his executives would suffice. Acting UAW President Rory Gamble, who took on the role after President Gary Jones stepped aside on Saturday amid mounting scrutiny over potential illegality, claims he’s sure there are no bad apples among the union’s executive board.
That said, he plans to root out any form of the illegal behaviour that, so far, has seen 13 UAW or automaker officials charged with fraud, embezzlement, and conspiracy in an ongoing federal probe. In the wake of charges laid against former UAW Vice President Joe Ashton this morning, Gamble is donning the title of Mr. Clean.
In a message to UAW members Tuesday, Gamble addressed the issue of union officials on the take, stating, “I want you to know that I will not excuse or tolerate any inappropriate actions, period. That is my promise to you.”
“From this day on,” he continued, “the UAW must not only adhere to the highest standards of conduct, put in place by former leaders like Walter Reuther. We need to exceed them. And that is my first priority.”
Speaking to Mike Martinez of Automotive News on Wednesday, Gamble said he’s worried about the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and the possibility of the union coming under federal oversight.
“That’s why I feel such tremendous disgust for those reps who have been found guilty of betraying their oaths of office,” he said. “They’ve jeopardized our organization for their own selfish reasons.”
Current and former UAW officials stand charged with enriching themselves and living high on the hog via kickbacks, bribes, and embezzled members’ dues. Money stolen from the union was allegedly spent on tony rented villas, booze, and sports equipment. Jones took a leave of absence after media sources named him as “Union Official A” in court documents filed in support of last week’s arrest of his top aide, Edward Robinson.
Gamble told AN he is “confident” his board members are clean and free of corruption. However, assurances like this have fallen flat in the past. As a result, Gamble plans to enact measures to uncover any corruption, with details forthcoming next week.
In an emailed statement sent to AN, General Motors, which saw Ashton serve as a board member from 2014 to 2017, said, “GM is deeply disturbed by Joe Ashton’s alleged criminal conduct. GM was not aware of this illegal activity until it was recently revealed by the government’s investigation, or that he allegedly continued to benefit from this conduct after the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust (VEBA) appointed him to the GM Board, a position he resigned in December 2017.”
[Image: UAW, James R. Martin/Shutterstock]
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