Category: Union News

By on March 22, 2019

Federal investigators are expanding their ongoing corruption investigation into the United Auto Workers and Detroit Three by taking a long look at donated money intended to buy flowers for member funerals. The concern is that the UAW’s “flower fund” may have been used as a slush fund to finance personal expenses for union officials.

It wouldn’t be the first time. Prosecutors have already secured the convictions of seven people via a probe into the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center. Several jailed union officials, along with former FCA-VP Alphons Iacobelli, helped investigators uncover illicit funds funneled through training centers and charities — including the Leave the Light On Foundation, created by the late General Holiefield. Now they’re helping the feds branch out.  Read More >

By on March 19, 2019

Norwood Jewell, the former head of the United Auto Workers’ unit attached to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, has been charged by federal prosecutors in Detroit with violating the Labor Management Relations Act. This makes him the highest ranking UAW member to be charged in the union corruption case that appeared to be on pause while investigators reexamined suspects, following a string of convictions in 2018.

Federal investigators are relatively certain that FCA engaged in the widespread bribery of union officials who were able to tap into funds allocated for their National Training Center — a scheme dating back to 2009. According to defamed former FCA vice president Alphons Iacobelli, the goal was to keep union officials “fat, dumb and happy.” Millions of dollars were believed to have been used to buy the UAW’s cooperation, and Jewell appears to have gotten a slice.  Read More >

By on March 14, 2019

Ontario Labor Relations Board Chairman Bernard Fishbein recently ruled that Unifor’s actions over the winter were illegal under the province’s Labor Relations Act, stipulating that the union must “cease and desist from engaging in, authorizing or counseling unlawful strikes or engaging in any act that is likely to cause employees at the Inteva, Lear or GM plant (or any other supplier of the GM plant) or any employees having notice of this decision to engage in any unlawful strike.”

However, Unifor President Jerry Dias says the board’s finding that the union engaged in unlawful strikes against General Motors and its suppliers will not stop its workers from walking off the job in the future.  Read More >

By on March 12, 2019

United Auto Workers President Gary Jones announced Monday that worker strike pay has increased from $200 to $250 a week, signaling the possibility of walkouts just a few months before U.S. worker contracts expire. While it would appear the UAW is preparing to strike, President Gary Jones said it’s not the union’s intent. “No one goes to the bargaining table expecting to strike. But the UAW goes to the bargaining table prepared to strike if our members need to strike,” Jones said. “Raising the strike fund is an important symbol that we have their backs.”

However, Jones chose slightly different phrasing when addressing union members at Cobo Hall on Monday. “Activism and solidarity, that is what secures our power,” Jones told hundreds of union members in Detroit. “The stakes are high. We are ready … We are ready to gear up and fight for what is right. We are ready to fight for our brothers and sisters and act as one.” Read More >

By on March 3, 2019

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will be in Michigan this week to meet with union leaders from United Auto Workers in a bit to gain their approval for the Trump administration’s new North American free trade deal. Lighthizer is scheduled to meet with union officials in Dearborn on Tuesday to answer questions about the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) while simultaneously drumming up support.

The USMCA deal suggests increasing existing requirements for North American content for vehicles, stipulating that 40 percent of a vehicle’s overall content be manufactured in areas paying at least $16 an hour, while also encouraging Mexico to tailor its labor rules to allow unions to wield legitimate collective bargaining powers.  Read More >

By on February 15, 2019

The Ontario government isn’t pleased with Unifor’s handling of General Motors’ decision to close Oshawa Car Assembly. Like the UAW, Canada’s autoworker union has been extremely vocal in its opposition to GM’s restructuring plan. Over the last few months Unifor members have picketed, held multiple rallies, protested the automaker during the North American International Auto Show, called for a boycott, and aired commercials condemning the manufacturer during the Super Bowl.

Todd Smith, Ontario’s minister of economic development, job creation and trade, believes all of this has been detrimental to future business investment. “The Unifor message hasn’t been helpful, not just for General Motors but the auto industry in Ontario,” he said during the Automotive News Canada Congress in Toronto.  Read More >

By on January 13, 2019

Jerry Dias, Unifor President, Image: OFL Communications Department (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Things are starting to get truly ugly between Canada’s Unifor and General Motors. On Friday, the union held a rally in Windsor, Ontario, with that automaker’s headquarters just a river away. During the event, Unifor President Jerry Dias expressed his annoyance with the automaker’s restructuring plan and promised to bring the noise to GM’s front door during the North American International Auto Show this week.

Friday’s gathering, which Unifor and the Windsor and District Labour Council claimed drew around 2,000 people despite its brevity, focused primarily on the company’s decision to shift more of its North American production to Mexico and the shuttering of Oshawa Assembly and the end of this year. Dias said he wants the union to work with the automaker to keep Canadian jobs and avoid a potential boycott. Though that might be just around the corner, as the UAW has already issued a boycott of its own within the United States. Read More >

By on January 11, 2019

Shortly after General Motors announced its decision to end assembly work at two car-producing U.S. plants, Tesla CEO Elon Musk floated the possibility of a Silicon Valley rescue of either Detroit-Hamtramck or Lordstown Assembly.

Talks between GM and Tesla did occur, it turns out, but GM CEO Mary Barra doesn’t seem to think much of the chances of laid-off employees finding salvation in a Tesla intervention. Read More >

By on January 6, 2019

General Motors HQ

Last week a lawsuit was filed with the U.S. District Court in Youngstown claiming that General Motors is in violation of a “memorandum of understanding” with the United Automobile Workers by allowing temporary employees to support the launch of some new product from Fort Wayne Assembly Plant. The facility, which is responsible for manufacturing the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, is alleged to have brought on temporary workers from May to August of 2018 instead of using its laid-off full-time workers. The UAW claims this is decision represents a breach of contract.

The union says there are nearly 700 workers laid off from the “nearby” Lordstown, Ohio Assembly Plant — many of whom have applied to transfer to the Fort Wayne as is their right under the current contract with GM. Read More >

By on January 3, 2019

General Motors Renaissance Center

As General Motors takes aim at its own foot in the United States, it’s managed to become Mexico’s top automaker by volume. The company saw a nearly 3 percent U.S. decline in the fourth quarter of 2018, during which it announced the shuttering of several U.S. and Canadian facilities as part of a widespread restructuring program aimed at freeing capital for autonomous and electric vehicle development.

Meanwhile, large investments in its Mexican plants over the last few years — coming at the same time as rival Nissan’s scaling back of sedan production — has left GM as the top dog in the region. General Motors and Nissan have spent decades jousting for the top spot south of the border, alternating positions “depending on what has happened in their production levels,” according to Stephanie Brinley, principal analyst at IHS Markit. Read More >

By on December 31, 2018

2018 Chevrolet Impala, Image: General Motors

It isn’t looking good. There’s a greater-than-likely chance we’ll soon have a flexible yet unwanted assembly plant sitting vacant on the other side of the lake from Rochester, New York, joining two transmission facilities, Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, and Lordstown Assembly on GM’s Island of Misfit Plants.

The union representing Detroit Three automakers north of the border is fighting to keep it open, buying up pages of ad space in Detroit newspapers and taking its case to the loftiest denizens of the Renaissance Center. In a week’s time, General Motors will either give the autoworkers of Oshawa something to be thankful for, or squash any remaining hope. Read More >

By on December 16, 2018

2018 Chevrolet Impala, Image: General Motors

It’s been roughly a month since General Motors announced it would be shuttering Oshawa Assembly, leaving the facility’s nearly 3,000 employees and Canada’s auto union more than a little annoyed. Unifor leadership has said it intends to meet with GM executives on December 20th and discuss the automaker’s plans for the Oshawa facility in Detroit. However, the rhetoric coming from union head Jerry Dias makes the upcoming meeting sound more like a mafia hit than a labor negotiation.

“GM is leaving Canada, and we’re not going to let them,” Dias told reporters. “We are going to waste General Motors over the next year. Waste them.”  Read More >

By on December 14, 2018

Employees at Tesla’s solar-panel factory in Buffalo, New York, are launching a drive to unionize with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the United Steelworkers. The campaign aims to unify about 300 production and maintenance employees at the the facility.  If it succeeds, it will be the first time the automaker has failed to stop its staff from organizing inside the U.S.

The EV manufacturers’ labor force wants the same thing we all want — more money. Many claim that Tesla offers unfair wages and believe collective bargaining is the only road to higher pay.  Read More >

By on November 6, 2018

Uaw-Logos

The training center embezzlement scandal currently rocking the United Auto Workers began with the indictment of a former Fiat Chrysler labor chief who offered kickbacks to select union officials in exchange for favorable treatment. Alphons Iacobelli, the ex-FCA executive in question, was sentenced to five years in federal prison last August but spent nearly 10 months helping the FBI’s investigation into unionized corruption, resulting in additional indictments.

Federal prosecutors have secured convictions of seven people linked to the conspiracy at this point, claiming FCA executives provided gifts or covert cash payments through the jointly operated UAW-Chrysler National Training Center in an effort to influence collective bargaining. It became such a problem that several union officials now claim they engaged in illicit activities because they were fearful of bucking the trend, losing their six-figure salaries, and being forced back onto factory floors — you know, like the people they were supposed to be representing.  Read More >

By on August 28, 2018

On Monday, former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles labor relations chief Alphons Iacobelli was sentenced to 66 months in federal prison for tax evasion and his key role in the corporate conspiracy to win favorable treatment from the UAW. Apparently, his plea agreement didn’t help him avoid jail time, but it was enough to shave a few years off his sentence.

Iacobelli pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiring to violate the Labor Management Relations Act and for subscribing a false tax return in January. At the time, he was facing a maximum sentence that included eight years in prison. However, his $835,000 tax-restitution case is yet to be resolved and will be decided upon at a future date. Iacobelli will continue assisting with the investigation in the interim and, likely, beyond.  Read More >

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