Despite much of its leadership being involved in a salacious probe by federal investigators, the UAW reached an agreement to temporarily extend its contracts with Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. for the purposes of continuing negotiations with the two automakers.
No word as of late Friday if a similar deal will be stuck with strike target General Motors Co. The contract with GM is set to expire Saturday, Sept. 14, at midnight.
One of the union’s regional directors, Vance Pearson, was charged with money laundering, conspiracy and falsifying reports required by the U.S. Department of Labor while embezzling as much as $1 million. Pearson is the 11th union member charged by this ever-growing query. However, the difference with Pearson’s charges is the roles of unnamed senior UAW leaders in the inappropriate handling of union dues and other funds are spelled out in the charges.
According to the Labor Department’s investigation, two high ranking UAW leaders play a central role in using union funds for extravagant travel and dining experiences as well as golf at top courses in California. While not spelled out explicitly, the implication is that current UAW President Gary Jones and his predecessor, Dennis Williams, were involved. While it’s implied neither of the two have been charged with any crimes.
However, shortly after the talks between GM and the UAW began, a team of investigators swarmed Jones’ Detroit-area home. Jones is leading the talks and said at the time he had no plans to remove himself from the process. With the new information revealed in the court documents, those plans could change.
Citing sources briefed on the matter, Reuters reported that the information contained in the charges, may crimp the desire of GM to continue the talks with the UAW this weekend. Two people briefed on the matter told Reuters GM may ask for a temporary extension of the contract and could pursue other options including seeking assistance from a third party.
At this point, it is not certain if the talks with GM will continue with the current UAW president under investigation.