By on November 14, 2019


They’re not calling it that, but we are. The United Auto Workers, rocked by scandal and indictments stemming from an ongoing federal corruption probe, is embarking on a serious clean-up operation in a bid to maintain its autonomy.

Under the direction of Acting President Rory Gamble, the union has outlined a series of reforms intended to keep the federal government from stepping in and grabbing the tiller.

In a message to members, Gamble, who assumed the top spot after President Gary Jones stepped aside two weeks ago amid growing suspicion of embezzlement, said he is “committed to putting in place the right mechanisms to safeguard our union, regaining the trust of our members, and ensuring the misconduct that has recently come to light will never happen again.”

Claiming that these efforts are “just the beginning,” Gamble said the reforms — to be implemented immediately — lay the “foundation for a more transparent, more accountable, and more responsible future for our union.”

The measures are many, but include:

  • The creation of an Ethics Ombudsman to receive and review complaints and allegations
  • The creation of an external Ethics Officer to investigate such complaints (the search begins immediately for a recruit)
  • A new enforcement policy to deter the misuse of funds, one which includes a “commitment to seek recovery of all misused or misappropriated funds”
  • Increased oversight by the UAW Accounting Department and more stringent monetary controls
  • The creation of an Ethics Hotline that guarantees anonymity to those looking to expose financial misdeeds
  • “The banning of all charitable contributions from UAW joint program centers, vendors, or employers to any charities run or controlled by UAW officials”

Thirteen current or former UAW and Detroit Three automaker officials have so far been collared in the sweeping corruption probe. Prosecutors claim numerous named and unnamed UAW officials spent years misusing members’ dues, funnelling cash away from training centers and spending it on rented villas, booze, and various toys. Other schemes aimed to draw kickbacks from contracts awarded to friends of UAW officials.

Last week, former vice president Joe Ashton was charged with bribery and money laundering. He stands accused of profiting from a contract awarded to his chiropractor for the creation of 58,000 UAW watches. The watches, still sitting in storage in a Detroit warehouse, never saw the wrist of a single UAW worker.

Days earlier, embezzlement charges were laid against Edward Robinson, a UAW official who served as Jones’ right-hand man. Media outlets named Jones as one of the unnamed co-conspirators listed in court documents.

In his message to members, Gamble also said that “Cabin Four,” an upscale retreat built for former President Dennis Williams for the reported price of $1.3 million, will be sold off, along with the surrounding property.

[Image: UAW]

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12 Comments on “‘Operation Clean-up’ Begins in Earnest at the UAW...”

  • avatar

    There are “bad apples” in every organization – business, religion, government!It’s in the news everyday.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, but that statement doesn’t mean that the major U.S. Labor Unions don’t have a history of corruption that is spectacularly worse that most organizations.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @Lokki, that is actually incorrect.
        Compare the number of ‘perp walks’ taken by corporate ‘executives’over the past 3+ decades and the corporate world has more prosecutions and jail time by a considerable amount than labour unionists.

        The days of Johnny Friendly are over. There is far more money to be made by Ponzi schemes and ripping off shareholders.

        • 0 avatar

          All these stories are from 2019. Your turn to counter.

          UAW – see above

          SEIU -see below

          Teamsters – see below

          IBEW – see below

          International Longshoremen’s Association – See below

          Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York -see below

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Without even having to Google
            Martha Stewart
            Leona Helmsley
            Those involved in the Savings & Loan scandals
            Now approximately 8 members of Trump’s campaign and/or administration
            And of course the crash of 2008
            That is just the tip of the iceberg and doesn’t include the weekly list of those convicted of stock manipulation, tax evasion, consumer fraud etc. And some of those companies are not charged criminally but only civilly.

            Here is an incomplete listing

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, but the point is that they’re trying to keep those bad apples from spoiling the whole barrel, and it’s going to take a shovel rather than doing it by hand.

  • avatar

    All unions are corrupt by definition. All of their leverage comes from violence, just like the mafia.

    • 0 avatar

      So, can you clarify something for me? If a bunch of my friends and I start a business and call it, “Ed’s Lawn Mowing” and collectively sell our labor to a bunch of different people, it’s a small business and that’s OK, right? And if we collectively sell our services to a single large company that needs lawn mowing, that’s a small business and that’s OK, right?

      But if we organize and sell our labor to a larger entity but we call it a union instead of a corporation, it’s corrupt and violent by definition?

      Just, you know, trying to figure out what the difference is between a business collectively selling the labor of its employees to a business, and a union collectively selling the labor of its members to a business, and why when the free market results in a company it’s the backbone of capitalism but when the free market results in a union it’s ‘violent corruption’. It seems really hard!

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @chris724: that is a complete misrepresentation of history.
      The employment relationship is one of power. The employer traditionally has the power. And used it to ‘keep the workers in line’. There has been many more instances of violence used by employers against workers than the other way around.

      The only way that workers can address that power imbalance is through ‘numbers’. By banding together workers can stand up to employers and bargain from a position of equal strength.

  • avatar

    Back in 2008 when the “fit hit the shan” at GM Canada I opted for the CAW negotiated package .

    The question I ask myself ?? Would I’ve been offered that package without union representation ???

    I know of many GM Salary retirees that have answered that inquiry .

  • avatar

    I’d like to see a similar “clean up” at GM, Ford, and Fiat-Chrysler, to start with.

  • avatar

    This is long overdue .


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