The UAW and the U.S. government reached a formal agreement Dec. 14 designed to guide the labor organization into the future after a long-running criminal probe that unearthed corruption in the ranks up to and including two presidents of what had historically been one of America's cleanest unions.
As part of the deal, which a federal judge still must approve, an independent monitor will be appointed and union members will determine how their leaders are elected under a civil settlement announced between the UAW and U.S. Attorney's Office.
"Today, we are joining together to announce that the UAW, one of the largest and most prestigious unions in the world, is now on a pathway to be free of corruption," U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said at a news conference in downtown Detroit.
The period designated for the monitor is six years, although it could be shortened or lengthened depending on the need. The monitor, whose costs are to be borne by the union, will not be involved in oversight of normal contract bargaining. Third-party oversight of contracts was one of the possible reforms discussed, but it did not become part of the agreement.
UAW President Rory Gamble, speaking at the news conference in the office where Schneider presides over the Eastern District of Michigan, said details of a membership vote to determine how leaders are selected will be forthcoming. However, members will have the option of keeping the current election-by-delegate process. The monitor will oversee the election.
Schneider said the consent order provides for genuine democratic reform within the union. He said it was appropriate to be handled this way because the UAW was dealing with issues of corruption but was not infiltrated by organized crime.
Schneider said the federal criminal investigation into the UAW is over, although other angles continue, including into Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The investigation has resulted in the convictions of 15 current or former UAW or FCA officials.
Schneider noted two payments the union has made or will make related to joint training centers the union shared with the Detroit Three, including $15 million the UAW has already paid to worker training centers for improper chargebacks at two of the three, and $1.5 million to be paid to the IRS for administrative fees.
In his joint appearance with Gamble, Schneider emphasized the importance of the moment and praised the UAW leader for...