Representatives of FCA US L.L.C., Stellantis’ legal entity in the U.S. and one of Detroit’s three automobile manufacturers, stood in open court pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the federal Taft-Hartley Act, by making illegal payments to officers of the United Auto Workers.
As part of the deal, finalized in court Monday, FCA agreed to pay $30 million fine and to three years of monitored probation. This was the final step in a deal that was originally agreed to in January.
“FCA US LLC today entered a plea of guilty to a single count of conspiracy to violate the Labor Management Relations Act in accordance with the agreement announced on Jan. 27, 2021,” the company said in a statement emailed to TheDetroitBureau.
During the hearing Monday, an FCA official admitted that the company conspired to violate federal law by making more than $3.5 million in illegal payments to officers of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America — better known as the UAW — between 2009 through 2016. During the conspiracy, executives of FCA, including Alphons Iacobelli, Jerome Durden and others, engineered the illegal payments to senior officials of the UAW.
FCA offered illegal payments
Iacobelli was the Senior Vice President of FCA US L.L.C. in charge of labor relations. The illegal payments to UAW officials took various forms, including extravagant meals, rounds of golf, lavish parties for the UAW International Executive Board, an Italian-made shotgun, clothing, designer shoes, and other personal items paid for with credit cards issued by the joint training center.
FCA executives also paid off the $262,000 home mortgage of now-deceased UAW Vice President General Holiefield. Absent from the narrative was any mention of the role former FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne played in the conspiracy.
Holiefield and his widow also received hundreds of thousands of dollars directed through Holiefield’s purported charitable organization, as well as companies controlled by him which had contracts with the training center.
The illegal payments were passed through the UAW-Chrysler Skill Development & Training Program d/b/a the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center, which was supposed to provide training and health and safety protections for FCA workers, according to court documents.
Other union officials got paid
The UAW officials who accepted illegal payments included former UAW Vice Presidents Holiefield and Norwood Jewell, Holiefield’s widow, Monica Morgan, and senior UAW officials, Virdell King, Keith Mickens and Nancy Johnson, the court filings noted.
Morgan and all of the UAW officials, except for Holiefield, who died before charges could be brought, pleaded guilty to conspiring to accept the illegal payments from FCA or tax charges.
Acting United States Attorney Saima S. Mohsin said FCA agreed probation for three years. During that three-year period, an independent compliance monitor selected by the government will oversee the company’s adherence to federal labor laws.
Mohsin said, “Through its participation in this conspiracy, FCA violated federal labor law and undermined the collective bargaining process and the faith of the UAW’s membership in their leaders.
By seeking a $30 million fine and three years of oversight by a court-appointed monitor, we are holding FCA accountable and sending a message to other companies that these types of crimes will not be tolerated, she said.