Presidential Hopefuls Laud Shady Union Bosses

Along with the other leading 2020 Democrat presidential hopefuls, Joe Biden believes all union bosses, including shady UAW chiefs, should have the power to extract forced fees from workers in all 50 states. Credit: Laura Ziegler, KCUR 89.3 (Kansas City, Mo.)

It’s ‘Pro-Worker’ to Court Alleged Embezzlers of Workers’ Money??

The stench of corruption has long been emanating from United Auto Workers (UAW) union headquarters in Detroit.

But federal, state and local politicians continue, even today, to plug their noses and court UAW kingpins.

Hopefuls for the 2020 Democrat presidential nomination, in particular, have been remarkably effusive in their praise of the UAW hierarchy since rank-and-file autoworkers were called out on strike against General Motors (GM) in  mid-September.

Throughout an ongoing strike that is costing autoworkers an estimated average of 60% to 80% of their weekly income for no purpose both worthy and achievable, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and other Democrat candidates have proclaimed their fealty to UAW “values.”

‘Corrupt Officials’ Have Caused ‘Devastating’ Damage To ‘Our Union’s Reputation’

Union President Gary Jones and his lieutenants launched the nationwide UAW strike against GM at 12:01 AM on September 16, less than four days after a federal complaint detailing Mr. Jones’ alleged extensive involvement in a multimillion-dollar Big Labor/Big Business corruption scandal became public.

Roughly four years ago, the FBI launched a criminal probe into the misappropriation of millions of dollars supposedly allocated for training union members by UAW union bosses and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) corporate executives.

Since the investigation became public in the summer of 2017, federal prosecutors have repeatedly labeled the UAW itself, along with FCA and a number of crooked union bosses and auto executives, as a co-conspirator in a years-long scheme to systematically violate federal labor law.

Elizabeth Warren insists union officers Gary Jones and Vance Pearson (inset left and right), who lived lives of luxury with dues money allegedly embezzled from workers, have workers’ best interest at heart. Credit : UAW

On September 12, federal agents arrested UAW Region 5 Director Vance Pearson and unsealed a 40-page criminal complaint detailing “an embezzlement scheme whereby UAW officials hid their personal use of UAW money without any legitimate union business purpose.”

Mr. Pearson was the sixth UAW official to be indicted in connection with the burgeoning scandal since 2017. The other five had already entered guilty pleas by the time of his arrest.

Within the union itself, a growing number of activists admit the UAW as an organization will have little credibility until a thorough housecleaning occurs.

In a recent statement posted on Facebook, for example, two UAW officials in Missouri acknowledged: “The damage . . . corrupt officials have caused to our union’s reputation is devastating.”

Gary Jones, Dennis Williams Allegedly Used Union Treasury Funds to Live Luxuriously

As a Detroit Free Press news account detailing the Pearson complaint explained, it shows how current and former UAW bosses “allegedly misspent union money for swanky lodging, expensive cigars and rounds of golf and golf equipment.”

Citing sources close to the investigation, the Free Press and the Detroit News have both reported that the two union bosses identified in the complaint itself only as “UAW Officials A and B” are, respectively, Mr. Jones and his immediate predecessor as UAW president, Dennis Williams.

Officials A and B allegedly used union treasury funds, consisting mostly of dues and fees forked over by UAW-“represented” workers, to live lives of luxury, featuring, just for starters, weeks- and even months-long vacation stays at “condominiums and villas with private pools and hot tubs in gated communities.”

A  joint  FBI/IRS/U.S. Labor Department search of Mr. Jones’ suburban Detroit home conducted late this August allegedly discovered more than $30,000 in cash and a set of Titleist golf clubs evidently purchased with union treasury money.

As president of the UAW, Mr. Jones is the leader of the 2019 strike against GM. But the evidence federal investigators had amassed against him by the middle of September was so compelling that a significant minority of UAW governing board members had already reportedly concluded he had to go so the union could be salvaged as an institution.

Mr. Jones survived an attempt to remove him at a high-level meeting of UAW bigwigs at the Westin Detroit Metropolitan Hotel on September 13.

‘I’m Joe Biden and I Am UAW’

But suspicions among rank-and-file autoworkers and other observers that Mr. Jones and other ethically challenged union bosses called the GM strike primarily to save their own skins, rather than to secure a better deal for members, are continuing to rise. 

Meanwhile, 2020 presidential wannabes like U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden have stepped up their efforts to ingratiate themselves with the UAW hierarchy.

At a September 22 rally outside GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, Ms. Warren joined union militants as well as workers who may have only reluctantly been out on the picket line in order to be eligible for $250 a week in strike pay.

Pretending to be completely unaware of the ongoing criminal investigation of Mr. Jones and the recent indictment of Region 5 Director Pearson, Ms. Warren insisted the UAW elite had ordered the workers out on strike “to make this America work for everyone.”

Other presidential candidates who made pilgrimages to UAW picket lines about the same time, including Mr. Biden, Mr. Sanders, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and others, also ignored the glaring corruption question while offering huzzahs to the UAW.

For example, at a struck GM plant in Kansas City, Kan., Mr. Biden went so far as to proclaim: “I’m Joe Biden and I am UAW.”

Lust For Big Labor Campaign Support Evidently Overrides All Other Considerations

National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix commented:

“Today, as a consequence of federal labor policy, the fate of roughly 150,000 GM, FCA and Ford autoworkers across the country is now substantially under the control of a union so riddled with corruption that it reportedly could soon face federal racketeering charges.

“GM workers especially have ample reason to believe they have been betrayed by, to quote Detroit News columnist Nolan Finley, ‘indictment-dodging union’ officials who cost them ‘more than $1,000 a week to deflect the heat of an FBI probe.’

“All the same, GM, FCA and Ford autoworkers are still being forced by federal law to accept UAW bosses as their ‘exclusive’ bargaining agent on matters concerning their pay, benefits, and work rules.

“And autoworkers employed in states like Ohio, Missouri and Illinois, which still lack Right to Work protections for employees, aren’t even free to protest allegedly rampant corruption by resigning from the UAW and cutting off all financial support for it, without having to lose their jobs.

“Somewhere in their heart of hearts, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and the rest must know that forced support for what is credibly alleged to be a criminal organization is wrong.

“But their lust for Big Labor campaign support evidently overrides all other considerations.”

Candidates Vow to ‘Eliminate’ Every State Right to Work Law Currently on the Books

Mr. Mix continued:

“And Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders et. al. aren’t satisfied ‘merely’ with keeping autoworkers in states like Ohio, Missouri and Illinois chained to the tainted UAW union.

“They are also vowing, as soon as they get an opportunity, to use the power of the federal government to dispose of state Right to Work laws that currently protect unionized GM, FCA and Ford employees in states like Michigan, Texas, Indiana and Kentucky.

“Thanks to their state Right to Work laws, Michigan, Texas, Indiana and Kentucky workers are currently free to protest suspected or confirmed Big Labor  corruption by resigning from the union and cutting off their dues payments, without risking unemployment.

“But this summer, the rabidly pro-forced unionism magazine In These Times reported that Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and a number of other seekers of the Democrat presidential nomination had already gone on record in favor of ‘eliminating’ all 27 Right to Work laws currently on the books.”