In a blistering statement, former UAW President Ron Gettelfinger denied accusations from lawyers for General Motors he had accepted money deposited in foreign banks in return for promoting the business objectives of former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. CEO Sergio Marchionne.
Gettelfinger, who stepped down from his post as United Auto Workers President in 2010, said he was speaking for himself not the union. He also noted he followed a policy of not speaking out through the press.
However, GM statements in the affidavit it filed in a bid to renew a lawsuit that has already been dismissed once left him no choice.
“I read with disgust and dismay some newspaper articles pertaining to me yesterday. I do not blame the reporters. They were covering a story based on statements taken from General Motors’ Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment against Fiat Chrysler and others, dated Aug. 3, 2020,” Gettelfinger said.
“I do, however, place the blame squarely on GM for their malicious and utterly baseless attack against me and a supposed ‘unnamed’ member of my family.
“I want to be unequivocally clear: I have never had control over any financial account in any foreign country, nor has any member of my family. Further, neither I nor any member of my family have ever received one cent from a foreign account like GM claimed. Never,” he added.
Gettelfinger said GM knew the allegations would draw major media attention. He added the company was also aware, and presumably intended, the charges would “tarnish my reputation. The harm GM has brought to my name will be never be erased in some people’s eyes,” he said, adding the auto company was looking to harm the UAW.
Not previously connected with any scandal, Gettlefinger said the union is “sickened” by the corrupt actions of former leaders.
“However, I find comfort in knowing that the overwhelming majority of our UAW IEB members, staff, clerical, maintenance and security employees are working hard every day for our membership. They won’t be deterred,” he said.
In the affidavit, GM said the former president favored Fiat and Marchionne during the discussions about rescuing Chrysler in 2009 and 2010 and was rewarded by Marchionne. GM also said former UAW President Dennis Williams also has benefitted from the foreign accounts as did the late General Holiefield, a vice president for the union.
Holiefield has been identified as a central figure in the scandal that has engulfed the UAW for the last three years.
Federal investigators in court papers have said Williams, who has been named a defendant in GM’s new complaint, misused his expense account. He recently repaid the union several thousand dollars and has not been charged by federal authorities. GM said Williams’ long relationship with Marchionne, dating back to his days as the union’s top negotiator in the agricultural implement sector, willingly participated in a conspiracy to harm GM business operations.