A federal probe that’s been dropping United Auto Workers staff like flies has another one in its crosshairs, this time with ties to General Motors. Up until now, the investigation has primarily involved members connected to the union’s Fiat Chrysler Automobiles department or the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center. But, according to court records filed Wednesday, retired UAW-GM Center for Human Resources board member Michael Grimes is also formally accused of corruption.
Grimes becomes the ninth individual to be slapped with corruption charges and the first with links to an automaker outside of FCA. He is not, however, alone. Court documents suggest he’s one of several UAW officials suspected of accepting bribes and kickbacks from automakers; they’ve just yet to be named.
Former union vice president Norwood Jewel has become the highest ranking UAW member to be convicted of corruption charges in a federal investigation that has lasted four years and delivered prison sentences for eight people, including Fiat Chrysler’s former labor negotiator, Alphons Iacobelli. You might recall him from to his extravagant spending habits.
The probe amassed evidence showing UAW officials receiving extravagant gifts, private residences, vacations, parties, and even cash furnished by FCA. Bribes, essentially, to help draw union concessions. Investigators looked into claims that high-ranking UAW members received kickbacks after giving business executives contracts to produce union-branded chachkies (shirts, keychains, frisbees, etc) and concerns that union members’ donations to flower funds intended for funeral services were misappropriated by the leadership.
Ford and General Motors are also under the microscope, with both saying they’re in full cooperation with authorities and cannot comment further.
Opulence and Automakers: With Sentencing Looming, Former UAW Veep's Lawyer Tries the Titanic Defense
Ahead of an August 5th sentencing date, federal prosecutors hoping make an example of former UAW vice-president Norwood Jewell (seen above, on the left) rolled out a raft of visual evidence to back up their case for a jail term.
Jewell was not the “Miller Lite kind of guy” his legal defense wished to portray; rather, the former head of UAW’s Fiat Chrysler division made gluttonous use of FCA funds earmarked for the two groups’ joint training center, prosecutors argued. Jewell was all too happy to accept the financial grease FCA poured on its labor wheels, they added. He wanted to be a “big shot,” and FCA made sure he lived the life of a touring rapper.
Workers represented by Local UAW 892 went on strike last night in Saline, Michigan. The union’s contract with Faurecia Interiors Systems, which expired on June 1st, was given a three-week contract extension to provide for negotiations. But, with no new deal on the table, employees walked out Friday at midnight. They’re demanding better wages, improved working conditions and profit sharing.
Plant workers have been complaining about conditions inside the plant to local media and online for several months, often citing plumbing issues and a leaky roof as the facility’s biggest problems.
The results of a Friday vote are in, and Volkswagen can breathe a sigh of relief. Five years after the United Auto Workers first attempted to place the automaker’s Chattanooga, Tennessee assembly plant under its umbrella, a second vote has yielded the same results.
Weeks and months of acrimony, ads, accusations, and other seemingly unavoidable aspects of union organizing led to a narrow win for the no-union side. As before, Southern auto plants remain just beyond the grasp of the UAW.
If at first you don’t succeed…
Following a narrow loss in February 2014, the United Auto Workers hopes that a vote set for mid-June in Chattanooga will be the big break it’s been looking for. Besides wishing to represent the thousands of workers at Volkswagen’s sole U.S. assembly plant, the UAW desperately wants to make inroads among foreign automakers operating in the South that have so far resisted its overtures.
Despite agreeing to play nice in the lead-up to the vote, both sides accuse the other of dirty tactics.
All this GM assembly plant news dropping today…
Announced Wednesday, GM’s Oshawa Assembly, Canada’s oldest auto plant, will not close permanently come the end of the year. After product disappears from its expansive confines later in 2019, the plant will swap hats, leaving its auto manufacturing role in the past. Unfortunately for employees, while some of the plant’s 2,600 workers stand to retain their employment, most will not.
Volkswagen’s singular U.S. plant has toyed with the idea of unionizing for the past five years. Chattanooga Operations, in Tennessee, initially seemed fine with the establishment of a German-style works council. However, while the United Auto Workers’ first attempt to seal the deal with votes failed in 2014, the union has since managed to rally more staff under its banner.
The UAW is now calling for another vote (its fifth), claiming a majority of the facility’s hourly workers are on its side. Meanwhile, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee spent the first part of this week pleading with plant staff not to unionize.
Eight months ahead of the planned shutdown of Canada’s oldest auto plant, union officials are on pins and needles, hoping General Motors prove receptive to its plan to save some of the 2,600 jobs at Oshawa Assembly.
Unifor, the union representing Detroit Three autoworkers north of the border, has submitted a proposal to GM in the hopes of making the best of a bad situation. It’s waiting to hear back, with word expected to arrive next week.
The last Chevrolet Cruze rolled out of Lordstown Assembly earlier this month, with the 53-year-old plant going dark two days later. Some laid-off workers are staying put, waiting to see if September contract talks hold any promise of a future in Lordstown.
While General Motors admits the United Auto Workers was willing to do its part to save the Lordstown Assembly Plant, details of that pact remained unknown. Now, a union official has shed light on some of the concessions the UAW agreed to.
Fiat Chrysler's Windsor Minivan Plant to Cut Third Shift, Shed 1,500 Jobs As Canada's Auto Sector Grows Increasingly Shaky
Union officials in Windsor, Ontario were blindsided Thursday afternoon by Fiat Chrysler’s announcement of job cuts at the company’s minivan plant. The automaker plans to cut a third shift at the plant, home to the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Pacifica, putting 1,500 out of work.
It will be the first time the plant has operated on two shifts since the early 1990s. According to properly pissed Unifor officials, lackluster Pacifica sales may be to blame for the move.
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.
Opioid addiction is on the rise in America and the United Auto Workers wants to confront the problem in its next round of collective bargaining. While the issue is most visible in parts of the Western United States, large pockets of the Midwest, South, and Northeast have cited an influx of drug overdoses since 2002.
The UAW, knowing that prescription medications are being increasingly abused by factory workers (as heroin simultaneously makes a comeback), wants to nip the issue in the bud. In addition to promoting job security, higher wages, and healthcare, union officials have identified combating opioids as an important element of future contract negotiations.
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.
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.
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- Probert It's worth pointing out that this car gets this great range due to its very low cd rating. It ha a relatively small 77kw battery. This aero efficiency gives it about 50 more miles relative to the ioniq 5, which uses the same powertrain. KIA/Hyundai make really good EVs. Hopefully this becomes more common.
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