Rank and file UAW members had their say in September, 2019, as many attended Mike Grimes’ trial and had plenty to say both to him and the press about Grimes’ crimes.
Nick Monacelli on clickondetroit: As he left the courtroom in September, 2019, Mike Grimes was met by a group of retirees who angrily yelled at him: “Shame on you Mike Grimes,” Frank Hammer, a former UAW colleague of Grimes, shouted. “I am angry with him. We worked together at the GM department. But I’m really angry at the culture that has been bred at the top levels of UAW leadership that felt so insulated from the rank and file.”
Eric Lawrence in the Detroit Free Press, describes more reactions from rank and file members. Bob Deshetler, who said he worked at the Jeep Wrangler paint shop in Toledo until he and others lost their jobs in 2012, said his group had come to send a message.
“We’re here just to let people know that the union is not that guy. We want it cleaned out. We want the bad guys gone,” Deshetler said.
One man, who declined to give his name, said he hopes Grimes gets a 10-year sentence. That’s not likely to happen even though the most serious charge carries a possible 20-year prison term and both offenses carry potential fines of up to $250,000. Sentencing guidelines call for a punishment of less than five years in prison.
“I just want to say I’m sorry,” said Grimes, a former UAW administrative assistant and executive board member of the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources who pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering.
Finally, he asked union members, one of whom came to court to explain how union corruption has robbed her family of good health care because of what has been bargained away, to “remember the good I did” as a union representative over a 28-year career as a UAW leader.
Several union members attended the sentencing, including Lynda Eckstrom, who was president of Local 393 in Flint, according to UAW filings.
She told the judge members have lost faith and trust in UAW leaders.
“Members, all we wanted was to be made whole,” she told the judge. “(The corruption) gives a bad name to all unions.”
What Will the UAW’s Future Be?
Eric Lawrence writes in the Free Press: The UAW issued a statement after the sentencing:
“Mike Grimes violated his oath of office and betrayed the trust of all our hard-working members. That is why on January 31, 2019, the UAW International Executive Board filed its own action against Mr. Grimes, taking away his membership in the UAW. While our union is moving forward, we will never forget the costly lessons from our past,” the union said, noting further the various financial and ethical reforms the union has implemented.
It is still to be seen whether those efforts will be enough to forestall a government takeover, although Manley, Grimes’ attorney, noted that he does not believe the UAW’s issues rise to the level of what was seen at the Teamsters, which recently reached a deal to end government oversight implemented in response to infiltration by organized crime.