UAW Names Independent Ethics Officer, Creates Moral Advisory Committee and Hotline

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Hoping to bounce back from its ongoing corruption scandal, the UAW announced the placement of its new independent ethics officer on Wednesday. The union group expressed a need for an independent ethics officer after Rory Gamble took over for defamed former UAW President Gary Jones late last year.

“As the acting president, I’m 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,” Jones explained in November. “That is why I am ordering immediate actions that will lay the foundation for a more transparent, more accountable, and more responsible future for our union.”

The UAW then launched an national search for an ethics officer. This week, it settled on former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board Wilma Liebman.

According to Automotive News, Liebman will collaborate with Exiger LLC to serve as its new ethics ombudsman. Exiger employees will oversee the union’s new ethics hotline — investigating and screening reports as they come in.

“My job, first and foremost, will be to ensure UAW leaders and employees operate with the utmost integrity, and that any unethical conduct is promptly investigated and properly acted upon,” Liebman said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Jones has banned charitable contributions to any charity headed by UAW officials — as they’ve come under suspicion as an easy way to funnel bribes. Additional care was taken to address the finances of the union’s joint training centers for similar reasons. UAW officials were chided by federal prosecutors in 2017 for using training center funds for personal use. The issue ultimately kicked off investigations that lead to corruption charges for over a dozen officials.

From Automotive News:

Gamble last week indicated for the first time he’d be open to meeting with federal investigators to discuss the ongoing probe, which to date has resulted in charges against 14 people and 13 guilty pleas. U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider, the lead prosecutor in the investigation, repeatedly said the union’s reform efforts don’t go far enough and that leaders have not cooperated as much as he’d like.

“We have to talk about real reforms, genuine reforms,” Schneider said earlier this month. “We’re not really seeing that right now.”

He suggested then that the union should consider direct election of officers as a meaningful step toward rooting out corruption.

Schneider has repeatedly said that RICO charges, similar to federal actions taken against the Teamsters union in the late 1980s, remain on the table.

The UAW also announced plans to establish an Ethics Advisory Committee incorporating some of the union’s Public Review Board, in addition to ordinary members. It plans to release additional details about the committee later this year, saying it has not yet ironed out all the details regarding the board’s structure.

“While our country and union navigate the difficult challenges of this pandemic, today’s actions mark an important step in the progress of our ethics reform agenda and underline our unwavering pledge to our members that their union is committed to operating at the highest level of integrity on their behalf,” Gamble said in the announcement.

“We know that in hiring Ms. Liebman to lead this important work, we are gaining an expert on labor law, widely respected for her knowledge and integrity, who will set a high bar for our union in the years to come. Also, with the infrastructure we are putting in place to ensure members can report financial or ethics complaints on a confidential basis, we are installing critical pieces to receive and investigate information about alleged wrongdoing.”

[Image: UAW]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Bullnuke Bullnuke on Apr 03, 2020

    "Meanwhile, Jones has banned charitable contributions to any charity headed by UAW officials — as they’ve come under suspicion as an easy way to funnel bribes.". Meanwhile, as one door slams shut, another door in a darker part of the room eases open...

  • -Nate -Nate on Apr 03, 2020

    All this is far, _FAR_ too late however, better late than never . -Nate

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