Another UAW Executive Enriches Himself and Others on Forced Dues

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Joseph  Ashton, UAW vice-president, is expected to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy and money laundering in December. 

On November 6, 2019, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Joseph Ashton, was charged in an information with one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud (18 U.S.C. 1349) and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering (18 U.S.C. 1956(h)).  Ashton knowingly participated in a scheme with others within the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Workers of America (UAW) General Motors Department, and the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources (CHR), in a scheme to take a $250,000 loan from a vendor for personal spending money.   

Ahston served as International UAW Vice President from 2010-2014, and was also a onetime General Motors board member from 2014 until 2017 serving as director of the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources, also from 2014 until 2017.  He had been nominated by UAW’s Retiree Medical  Benefits trust to the  General Motors board in accordance with a 2009 stockholders agreement in effect at the time.  Ashton resigned from the GM Board in 2017 as questions about a possible federal probe began to circulate.   Ashton previously served as executive vice president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Executive Council and executive vice president of the New Jersey AFL-CIO.  He was involved in Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Northeast-Midwest Alliance for Labor.

Prior to that time he served as director of the UAW’s Region 9 (Central New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) from June 2006 and as assistant director of Region 9 from January 2003. He had been a member of the UAW International staff since 1986.

Ashton knowingly joined with other UAW and CHR personnel to draw a $250,000 loan from a vendor.  Those conspirators turned around and helped that vendor to win a contract from CHR for over  $3,900,000.  It was implied the profits would constitute a “repayment” of the conspirators’ “loan.”  After the vendor was awarded the contract from the CHR, Ashton demanded at least $250,000 in kickbacks.  The charges follow an investigation by the OLMS Detroit-Milwaukee District Office, the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations. 

Joseph Ashton is scheduled for a plea hearing Dec. 4 before U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman. It is expected he will plead guilty, as his co-conspirators already have done so, but requests for comment have not been answered by his attorney.