In an unusual joint announcement, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider and UAW President Rory Gamble revealed they planned to meet June 30 to begin negotiations on reform of the United Auto Workers Union.
The joint statement said they “(s)eek to work together to restore the trust and confidence of the UAW’s membership in the Union’s ability to represent them and their interests.
“This meeting is the first step in a joint effort by U.S. Attorney Schneider and President Gamble to put into place mechanisms and protections to eliminate corruption and to ensure that it does not return.”
Schneider, for the first time, commended Gamble’s efforts toward reform and his willingness to take further measures to combat corruption. In the past, Schneider was critical of the union’s efforts, saying they hadn’t gone far enough.
“I look forward to working with President Gamble to achieve what I hope will be a joint effort to resolve some of the serious issues that the UAW has faced over the past several years,” said Schneider. “The UAW’s membership deserves our concerted push to bring about significant and important reforms.”
Gamble, who has bristled at the notion he’s not enacting substantial changes in the past, was equally conciliatory.
The union continued down the path to change by agreeing to a deal to sell at $1.3-million vacation home on UAW property in northern Michigan that was built for former union president Dennis Williams, Gamble saying it was the “right thing to do.” He noted it was part of his push to enact “comprehensive reforms.” Government officials had to release a lien placed on the property to make the sale happen.
“Today’s joint announcement of our upcoming meeting is another step toward building on the many reforms we have already enacted. I look forward to discussing with U.S. Attorney Schneider the many reforms we have already put in place and furthering our efforts on other ongoing reforms for the UAW and our members,” Gamble said in a statement.
“I firmly believe we both have the same goal. As I have said from day one as President, my intent is to hand over to my successor a stronger, more effective and cleaner Union that UAW members will be proud of for generations to come, and I very much look forward to meeting with Mr. Schneider.”
The announcement follows the guilty plea of former UAW President Gary Jones. Jones pled guilty to embezzling more than $1 million in dues money and converting it personal use.
Jones’ guilty plea was the result of a long investigation by the U.S. Attorney and the U.S. Department of Labor. The investigation uncovered several instances of corruption and resulted in guilty pleas not only from Jones, but also from two UAW vice presidents and charges that a third, the late General Holiefield, accepted illicit gifts from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. executives, who were attempting to influence UAW policy.
Three FCA executives, 14 union leaders and Holiefield’s widow have pleaded guilty to federal charges filed by the U.S. Attorney during the course of the investigation.