Hoping to fend off a takeover of the union by government officials, UAW President Rory Gamble has agreed to meet with federal prosecutors, who have been critical of the union’s level of assistance during the ongoing investigation of corruption involving the union and automakers.
Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider hinted that the union could be placed under government supervision due to the lack of internal controls during the press conference announcing charges against former UAW President Gary Jones.
“It’s always an option,” he said during a press conference in Detroit Thursday afternoon, adding that former Teamsters President James Hoffa called that union’s time under federal control “positive. I think that’s something we should all pay attention to.”
Schneider confirmed that while the union is cooperating with investigators, that the level of assistance is below what they expect.
“We could use additional cooperation from the UAW,” he noted, adding he “expected” to get more help from the union.
Although the union has maintained it’s been cooperating with investigators, the comments by Schneider were really the first uttered by officials in a public forum. The union has been quick to denounce the actions of the 14 officials who have now been charged by prosecutors; however, those same prosecutors have hinted for some time that the UAW hasn’t been as helpful as it could me. Allegations the union denies.
“The UAW continues to fully cooperate with the government. We have produced millions of pages of documents and electronic records to the government, and we have brought in every UAW witness the government has asked to speak with or have testify in the grand jury,” UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg said in a statement to The News.
In preparation for this meeting, according to the Detroit News, the UAW has hired a prominent New York law firm, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. The firm will help the union with what the UAW described in a statement as “technical assistance with our ethics and compliance reform efforts” to root out corruption within one of the nation’s most prominent unions.
“President Gamble would welcome the opportunity to personally meet with U.S. Attorney Schneider and his team to discuss the investigation and the reform efforts and new ethics programs the UAW has undertaken,” Rothenberg said. “We look forward to working with the government investigators as we turn the page to a brighter future.”
Schneider welcomed the offer, saying his office and the UAW’s legal team have been discussing the possibility of a meeting: “I’d look forward to meeting with him as well,” he told The News on Thursday. “And I hope we can arrange that as soon as possible. We want certain reforms.”
During his press conference earlier this month, Schneider reference the government takeover of the Teamsters Union, which ended earlier this year. The government took control due to the influence of organized crime, specifically La Cosa Nostra, within the union. In 2015, the government agreed to relinquish control during a five-year period.
“February 17 will be a historic day for the Teamsters because we’re finally ending government interference in our union,” Teamsters President James P. Hoffa told Bloomberg Law.