UAW President Gary Jones recently took a leave of absence amid rumors about his role in an ongoing federal investigation of senior union officials.
The union made that departure permanent today.
The UAW’s International Executive Board filed charges under Article 30 of the UAW Constitution against Jones and Vance Pearson, Jones’ aide, the union said. The board is seeking to remove Jones and Pearson from their elected positions within the UAW and to expel them from membership in the union.
The charges claim that Jones and Pearson directed the “submission of false, misleading and inaccurate expense records” to the union, hiding accurate information concerning those expenses, in violation of the UAW’s Ethical Practices Code and applicable federal labor laws.
“This is a somber day, but our UAW Constitution has provided the necessary tools to deal with these charges,” said UAW Acting President Rory Gamble. “We are committed at the UAW to take all necessary steps including continuing to implement ethics reforms and greater financial controls to prevent these types of charges from ever happening again.”
The news came less than two hours after General Motors said it was suing Fiat Chrysler on racketeering charges involving the UAW. GM’s top lawyer, Craig Glidden, made it clear the automaker wasn’t going to sue the union, praised Gamble for his efforts to restore order to the union.
“We are supportive of the reform efforts the UAW has announced,” he said during his press conference in Detroit.
Federal investigators have been engaged in a lengthy investigation of union officials. A dozen senior UAW officials have pleaded guilty to a variety of charges related to the FCA-UAW training fund scandal. However, Jones had not yet been named or charged in the query, but there had been speculation that that would be occurring soon.
Jones had been under increasing pressure prior to his departure Nov. 3, especially since the FBI raided the UAW president’s home in suburban Detroit in late August. In subsequent court filings, federal prosecutors and officials from the U.S. Department of Labor reported finding $30,000 in cash and golf equipment purchased with money from the UAW’s treasury.
In September, 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.
In addition to Pearson, who replaced Jones as head of UAW Region 5 covering the western United States, Edward “Nick” Robinson, the head of the union’s Political Action Committee in Region 5, was charged with federal crimes for allegedly embezzling money from the union’s general funds and its political funds.
In court filings in late October, federal prosecutors said that Robinson met with Pearson and “UAW official A,” who has been identified by several sources as Jones, in an abortive effort to cover up the embezzlement, which included writing phony invoices to make it look like the money was used for legitimate union business.
During the meeting, this past summer Robinson, Pearson and “Union Official A” discussed destroying documents, utilizing “burner” phones to evade government surveillance and obtaining employment for one of Robinson’s relatives to insure his silence, according to federal court filings.