Corruption scandal, COVID-19 pandemic leave UAW at crossroads on Labor Day

Scandal, pandemic loom over UAW leadership

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – Labor Day is usually a day for the United Auto Workers’ union to flex its muscles as one of the largest labor unions in the country, but with the ongoing corruption scandal and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, this year is very different.

This year, the UAW is facing a crossroads on Labor Day.

RELATED: Ex-UAW President Gary Jones pleads guilty in corruption case

The traditional Labor Day Parade didn’t happen Monday because the virus forced a cancelation. Unions put out a video, but left unaddressed was the UAW’s future and what it could look like.

Workers’ videos were inserted into a 50-minute union tribute, which was capped by UAW President Rory Gamble.

“This year has been unprecedented, and I want to recognize the hard work and courage of my UAW family navigating this terrible pandemic and working tirelessly to keep one another safe,” Gamble said.

Two former UAW presidents are heading to prison: Gary Jones after a guilty plea and Dennis Williams, who is likely to soon plead guilty for embezzling from the union.

U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider told Local 4 he thinks 15 members of the union’s leadership wound up or are heading to prison.

“When there is a corrupt union official, sometimes people who then move up in the ranks -- they learn the wrong way to going things,” Schneider said. “So what we need to do is there’s got to be a stop. There has to be a stop where that culture ends, and then we’re going to put our foot and and say, ’We will no longer tolerate that type of activity in our union.’”

Schneider said he has a team working with Gamble to negotiate a way to permanently end this type of corruption.

“Whatever we do, however we resolve this case, it will be a way to empower the men and women of the union, the people who are working there,” Schneider said.

The UAW is going to close the National Training Center in Warren and one in Kokomo, Indiana. The union negotiated the closures in the UAW national contract last year as part of the federal investigation.

Nearly 100 union members will lose their jobs as a result of the closings.


About the Authors: