As news media recounts Attorney General Matthew Schneider as “losing patience” with United Auto Workers (UAW) bosses who have stolen millions in dues from the union, one can only imagine how the UAW’s almost 400,000 rank and file members, especially those who are forced-dues payers, feel about the latest news on Gary Jones, former UAW president.
U. S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Matthew Schneider stated, “”The union needs to change quite simply . . . There’s a more urgent need to reform the union and fix it. . . I’m pretty much at the end of my patience.”
Jones resigned as president in November, 2019 and pleaded guilty to stealing more than $1 million in dues money on June 3, 2020. Jones admitted wrongdoing after federal prosecutors and a team of investigators from the FBI, Internal Revenue Service and Labor Department discovered he was taking funds, and tried to manipulate another employee to assume the blame, thereby impeding the investigation. Investigators spent years establishing his case using such methods as undercover recordings, bank records, former confidantes and senior UAW officials who cooperated with investigators.
“A certified Public Accountant by trade, and despite only having served as president for 16 months, Jones was able to appropriate $1,000,000 in union funds by submitting fraudulent vouchers to the UAW that misrepresented the destination and purpose of the expenses and by using unauthorized checks to divert funds from the UAW Midwest Community Action Program (CAP). Jones also conspired to defraud the United State of taxes owed.
There is talk of a federal takeover of the union, but will that restore to union rank and file what they’ve lost in union dues over the years? In 1988 the U. S. Justice Department took over the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, appointing trustee over the union mainly because of its links to organized crime. The trusteeship ended in 2015, with a five-year transition period.
There are many avenues to reform the union could take. Perhaps the most significant and democratic one, could be the direct election of officers by rank and file members, instead of the current method of electing officers through delegates.
UAW rank and file commented “We have to live with this the rest of our lives,” said Brian Schneck, president of UAW Local 259 in Hicksville, New York, which represents dealership service technicians. “It is a horrible, horrible day for the UAW. We put our blood, sweat and tears into it, and this is what they do?
“Whatever sentence he gets whatever restitution he gives does not right the theft he committed or the damage he has done to the movement — the entire labor movement. It was all about him.”
Check out the UAW’s 2018 LM-2 here.