Gary Jones, ousted as the president of the United Auto Workers (UAW) late last year, admitted to embezzling more than $1 million in union dues throughout a decade.
“With UAW President Gary Jones’ guilty plea today, we move into a new phase of the Justice Department’s investigation of the UAW,” says U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider. “While our criminal cases and the investigation of criminal conduct by individuals and entities continue, we will shift our focus to reforming the UAW so it serves the working men and women of the union first and foremost. I look forward to meeting with UAW President Rory Gamble as soon as possible to have these important discussions.”
Gamble, who took over for Jones when the FBI investigation of the union leader became public last year, pledged to work to reform the organization and said the UAW would survive the scandal.
“Our Union and mission will always be more powerful and resilient than any single individual or obstacle. Together, we’ve overcome insurmountable challenges from the Great Depression and the near-collapse of the American auto industry, to the GM-UAW strike, and now COVID-19,” Gamble says. “Former President Gary Jones and others abused their high-ranking positions and violated the trust of our members. Their actions were selfish, immoral, and against everything we stand for as a union.”
Throughout the past three years, federal law enforcement officials have convicted 14 leaders of the UAW and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and say the conviction of Jones shows the corruption problems reached all the way to the top of the organization.
Jones pleaded guilty to an embezzlement scheme that began during his time running the UAW’s Region 5 that covers most of the western half of the U.S. – from Missouri to Texas to California. Prosecutors say Jones submitted false expense reports for a decade, living a lavish lifestyle of high-end golf courses, expensive meals, and even $13,000 in cigars.
The prosecutions roiled the union through contract negotiations with Ford, General Motors (GM), and FCA last year. While Jones pleaded guilty to personal embezzlement, other UAW officials said they took bribes from FCA, and two FCA executives pleaded guilty.GM sued FCA last year, saying Fiat’s actions were intended to create contracts that helped the company and harmed GM, a scheme ultimately engineered to weaken GM and force it to merge with FCA.
Based on two counts of conspiracy, Jones faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The government is recommending a term between four and six years. Jones also agreed to forfeit a set of Titleist golf clubs seized when federal agents executed a search warrant at his home in August 2019. Jones agreed to hand over to the government the $32,377 in cash that was also seized from his residence in August 2019.
Federal officials were clear that they’re not done investigating UAW corruption.
Thomas Murray, district director, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS), says, “OLMS will continue to work with its fellow law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to remove corrupt union officers and other officials within the UAW International Union.”