Auto workers chief, prosecutor to discuss reforming union

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Gary Jones

FILE – In this March 11, 2019 file photo, Gary Jones, president of the United Auto Workers union addresses delegates to the union’s bargaining convention in Detroit. An expected guilty plea to corruption charges by former United Auto Workers President Gary Jones has been delayed due to the coronavirus and traveling concerns. Jones was to appear in federal court in Detroit on Thursday, March 12, 2020. He’s accused of conspiring with UAW cronies to embezzle more than $1 million. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

DETROIT (AP) — The head of the United Auto Workers will meet this month with the U.S. attorney in Detroit to discuss potential changes for the union following a wide-ranging corruption probe.

Matthew Schneider, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, has floated the idea of the government taking control of the union and has pushed for letting each member vote on its leadership.

The government’s corruption probe has been embarrassing for the UAW. Ten union officials and a late official’s spouse have pleaded guilty since 2017, including former President Gary Jones.

Some officials used union dues for golf, lodging and fancy meals, while others tapped cash from a Fiat Chrysler-UAW training center with approval from an FCA executive. Others took kickbacks from union contractors.

Dennis Williams, another former president, has not been charged but his California home was searched last summer.

In a joint statement Monday, the union and Schneider said current UAW President Rory Gamble will meet with Schneider June 30 in Detroit to start negotiations on changes for the union. “Both men seek to work together to restore the trust and confidence of the UAW’s membership in the union’s ability to represent them,” the statement said.

Schneider said he looks forward to working with Gamble to resolve some of the serious issues that the UAW has faced. “The UAW’s membership deserves our concerted push to bring about significant and important reforms,” he said.

Currently the 400,000-member union elects its leadership by voting for delegates who attend a convention every four years. The UAW represents about 150,000 workers employed by Ford, Fiat Chrysler and General Motors, but it also includes casino workers, university graduate assistants and others.

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