The United Auto Workers and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Detroit will continue to discuss ways to reform the union in the wake of the initial meeting between UAW President Rory Gamble and Matthew Schneider, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.
The Justice Department, in concert with other federal agencies, has been investigating – and prosecuting – former union executives for financial malfeasance for the past 24 months. The result has been more than a dozen former union officials have pleaded guilty to a variety of charges, including most recently, former UAW President Gary Jones.
In joint statement after the meeting, which was brought on by a two-year-old scandal that has battered the union’s reputation, the Gamble and Schneider described their meeting as productive and helpful adding that it pointed the way to continuing change within the union.
“The Justice Department seeks genuine and sincere reform of the UAW so as to provide the best possible representation for its members,” said Schneider. “I look forward to working toward a mutually agreeable resolution that will protect the interests of the UAW’s members and their families.”
Gamble, who took over after the aforementioned Jones resigned, has been instituting reforms aimed at bringing some order back to the union — and keeping it from the same government oversight the Teamsters union. He echoed Schneider’s optimistic and conciliatory sentiment.
“Today’s discussion was productive, and both the U.S. Attorney and I have the same goal for the UAW International Union,” he said.
“As we turn the page to a stronger, better and cleaner union, we continue to make critical decisions that will protect the sacred dues money of our members. I look forward to continued discussions in the near future that advance toward closing one dark chapter and opening new brighter chapters for members of the UAW.”
Schneider also said he welcomed the opportunity to sit down with Gamble to work together toward improving the union for all its members. Gamble noted meeting with the Department of Justice can help him further efforts to alter the organization and ensure integrity within the union’s leadership structure.
They also discussed the importance of democracy for the selection of the UAW’s leadership and the possible use of an independent monitor who could provide further assurance to the membership of concrete changes to the union so as to reduce the possibility of a reoccurrence of corruption.
In addition, they are considering whether third-party oversight to implement any future agreement would be helpful. The parties agreed that there are a number of reform options that are on the table and that will be the subject of further negotiations when the parties meet again to consider them in further detail within the coming weeks.