The UAW announced Thursday that Gary Jones, through his attorney, has informed the UAW that he was resigning as President of the UAW effective immediately rather than face a trial for misconduct under the union constitution that could have led to his expulsion from the union.
The resignation of Jones, once a protege of former President Steve Yokich, the architect of the modern UAW, ends his scandal-ridden, 18-month tenure as the UAW’s top officer. It also clears the way for the UAW to elect a new president, Brian Rothenberg, the UAW’s director of communication told TheDetroitBureau.com. The union’s executive board has not set a date for selecting a new president, but it is expected to be soon, he said.
Rory Gamble, a long-time union officer, became the UAW’s acting president Nov. 3, when Jones took a leave of absence after a close associate was charged by federal prosecutors with embezzling money from the UAW’s treasury and political funds by filing false invoices. Jones hasn’t charged but federal prosecutors said the FBI found more than $30,000 in cash in Jones garage during a mid-August search of his home in suburban Detroit.
Gamble is currently in the midst of negotiating a new labor contract with FCA, which was made more difficult this week when General Motors filed a lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler accusing its rival of racketeering in an effort to win better contracts from the UAW.
One hole in GM’s theory, however, is that union members actually voted down one the contracts FCA’s corruption had tainted. After the contract was rejected by union members, the UAW negotiated a new contract with FCA that also served as the pattern for the union’s 2015 contract with GM, one knowledgeable observer told TheDetroitBureau.com.
Putting Jones on trial under the union’s internal rules was, in part, an effort to forestall any effort by the federal government to take over the union because of rampant corruption.
Gamble had said in an interview with TheDetroitBureau.com earlier this month that he would do whatever was necessary to protect the UAW as an institution and to restore the reputation of the union.
“We are committed at the UAW to take all necessary steps including continuing to implement ethics reforms and greater financial controls to prevent these type of charges from ever happening again,” Gamble said, including using the constitutional provisions to force Jones out of office if the evidence showed that the union’s president had failed to live up to the his obligations as the union’s top officer.
Union activists had begun circulating a petition among the UAW’s local chapters, asking for support for the removal of Jones and Pearson. The petition has been supported by at least a half-dozen different locals.
“We will handle properly any request that comes up through the system,” said Gamble.
Gamble in a move to open up the union’s sometime stifling internal culture also demoted an assistant director of the UAW’s Ford Department who had criticized union local that had voted against ratification of the UAW’s new labor contract with the Ford Motor Co.
Meanwhile, the unfolding scandal inside the union also has trigged a lawsuit by General Motors against FCA and three FCA executives engulfed in the scandal and by extension by the former FCA CEO, the late Sergio Marchionne.
“While a full accounting of the damage inflicted on GM is unknowable at the time without discovering additional details of the scheme, GM estimates it has incurred massive monetary damage in the form of higher costs that it seeks in relief. The damage is direct, substantial and foreseeable consequence of this bribery scheme orchestrated by FCA Group and the many acts of racketeering that fueled the scheme,” GM’s suit said.
The UAW noted in a statement that the Alphons Iacobelli the architect of the effort to bribe UAW officials worked for both FCA and General Motors, and he is currently in prison for his crimes.