The federal corruption investigation of Fiat Chrysler’s UAW-Chrysler National Training Center has spilled over into the same entities at General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co.
The FCA investigation turned focused on top UAW officials misusing about $4.5 million meant for employee training. The funds were used to influence FCA executives.
Now media reports reveal that investigators issues subpoenas for information from the Ford and GM centers. In the case of GM, the Detroit News reported federal officials are zeroing in on Joe Ashton, a retired UAW vice president who was appointed to GM’s board in 2014, and Cindy Estrada, who succeeded Ashton and is in charge of the union’s GM department.
The expanded query seeks to discover if training funds were used inappropriately and if union leaders at the two automakers received cash or other benefits through tax-exempt non-profit entities, according to The News.
(Ex-UAW official indicted in federal probe. For the story, Click Here.)
Federal investigators said non-profits were used to siphon money from the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center to company and union officials. After the FCA case broke, both the UAW and and Fiat Chrysler officials said they were cooperating with federal investigators while conducting their own internal probes.
In the current case, Ford hasn’t nor does it plan to investigate the finances of the UAW-Ford National Programs Center.
“We are cooperating with the inquiry,” the company said in an emailed statement to Automotive News. “We are confident in the UAW-Ford National Programs Center leadership team and the policies and procedures used to govern the program operations that benefit approximately 57,000 members of our UAW-Ford hourly workforce.”
(Click Here for details about an FCA analyst pleading guilty in UAW scandal.)
In August, GM officials declined reveal whether or not it would investigate its program or even if former FCA lead negotiator Al Iacobelli – whom federal prosecutors accused of being at the center of the multimillion dollar scheme at the FCA-UAW training center – remained a GM employee.
Determining if there is a problem is vital to the relationship between the union and its rank-and-file members.
“If the companies are buying labor peace by corrupting union leadership, that has to be a significant concern,” said Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor and former federal prosecutor. “This sends a message that union leaders are just in it for themselves. This can rile up members and lead to an insurgency.”
(For our initial report on the indictments, Click Here.)
GM officials said they are cooperating with federal investigators on the probe.