The drip, drip, drip of charges in the scandal surrounding the training funds at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. administered jointly by FCA and the United Auto Workers continues as federal prosecutors disclosed they filed charges against another former UAW official.
Keith Mickens, 64, of Detroit, a former senior official in the UAW’s FCA Department, became the fifth person, including two from the UAW and two from FCA, charged in a corruption scandal that has led to four convictions.
Mickens was charged with using credit cards linked to the joint training fund to purchase luggage, electronics, designer clothes and golf equipment in a criminal investigation, which means a guilty plea is expected.
The purchases were apparently made with the tacit approval of Mickens’ boss, General Holiefield, the late UAW vice president at the center of the scandal and Alphonse Iacobelli, the former FCA vice president of labor relations. Iacobelli pleaded guilty to federal charges back in January and his awaiting sentencing. Monica Morgan, Holiefield’s wife, also pleaded guilty to federal evasion charges.
The UAW, which has seen its reputation tarnished by the scandal, said it was embarrassed by the misconduct of a staff member.
(Holiefield’s widow pleads guilty in FCA-UAW scam. Click Here for the story.)
“We are deeply disappointed by the illegal misconduct alleged in today’s charge against Keith Mickens, a former UAW staff person,” UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg said in an e-mailed statement.
“At the time of his misconduct, Mr. Mickens served as General Holiefield’s administrative assistant. His position as an administrative assistant ended in 2014, and he left the UAW altogether in 2015. The scheme set out in the charge against Mr. Mickens did not affect the negotiation of the terms of our collective bargaining agreements or involve the loss of any union funds,” the statement said.
The influence that Holiefield, Mickens and Virdell King, another UAW official who has pled guilty to misusing training funds, might have had on negotiations with FCA is a particularly sensitive point for the union. Dennis Williams, UAW president, said neither Holiefield nor Iacobelli had any influence over the course of the union’s negotiations with FCA in 2011 or 2015.
The union was forbidden to strike in 2011 under the rules of laid out after the federal government pulled the old Chrysler Group out of bankruptcy. The outcome of the negotiations followed a pattern used at General Motors and Ford and continued the deeply unpopular two-tier wage system.
(Click Here for details about an FCA analyst pleading guilty in UAW scandal.)
In the plea agreement he signed in January, Iacobelli said he approved giving union officials access to the joint training funds for personal spending for luxury items as well for a mortgage on a house owned by Holiefield and Morgan in suburban Detroit to influence the UAW. Iacobelli also dipped into the training funds to finance major home improvements and the purchase of a used Ferrari.
Iacobelli gave up his position as FCA’s top labor negotiator in the summer of 2015 on the eve of another round of negotiations. The negotiations revolved around the two-tier wage and after union members voted down the first proposed agreement brought back by union negotiators. The final agreement, which was negotiated under the threat of a strike, curtailed the two-tier system and was ratified.
Neither Holiefield or Iacobelli had any influence in shaping the agreement, Williams said.
Union members, however, that members of Holiefield’s staff, which had been corrupted through the joint funds, continued to influence the administration of the contract and at least one group of employee has set up a “Go Fund Me” page to help pay for a lawsuit against the union.
(For our initial report on the indictments, Click Here.)
Williams, however, insisted that the FCA Department was overhauled after the union was informed of the federal investigation and the misconduct by Holiefield and members of his staff and family.