Settlement Ignores Key Sources of Corruption

Workers Will Keep Paying the Price For UAW Union Bosses’ Crimes

Gamble and Schneider
Fist-bumping UAW boss Rory Gamble (left) and U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider agree to make the UAW rank-and-file pay for the criminal acts of the UAW hierarchy and end a criminal probe of the UAW. (Credit: Eric D. Lawrence/Detroit Free Press)

On December 14, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider and United Auto Workers (UAW/AFL-CIO) President Rory Gamble announced a deal to end a years-long federal investigation of the 400,000-member union Mr. Gamble heads.

Prosecutors have repeatedly alleged that the UAW itself, along with a number of corrupt union bigwigs and auto-industry executives, took part in a long-running conspiracy to violate federal labor law and misappropriate training funds that were supposed to be spent helping workers. 

The union officials implicated in the scandal took bribes from vendors and/or stole union treasury money to buy vacation time at private villas, expensive restaurant meals, cigars, liquor, and much more.

The union is expected ultimately to fork over more than $16 million in fines and penalties related to crimes committed by union officials. Of course, this money is coming out of the pockets of rank-and-file workers. 

Biden Appointees Unlikely To Be Serious About Rooting Out Union Corruption

Eleven former union officials, including two former UAW presidents and two former vice presidents, have already pleaded guilty to crimes connected to the federal investigation overseen by Mr. Schneider. Yet another guilty plea was entered by the widow of a deceased UAW vice president.

As reporters Robert Snell, Kalea Hall, and Breana Noble explained in their Detroit News account of the Schneider-Gamble announcement, although the criminal investigation of the UAW itself is now over, “federal agents will continue to investigate” individual participants in the conspiracy.

Unfortunately, Mr. Schneider did not require that the UAW brass make, as a condition of the union avoiding a full federal takeover, fundamental reforms addressing the special legal privileges that UAW officials exploited again and again to enrich themselves at workers’ expense.  

National Right to Work Committee Vice President Greg Mourad commented:  

“There is a good chance Matthew Schneider would have driven a substantially tougher bargain with Rory Gamble, whose own ties to one of the UAW’s highest paid contractors have reportedly been the subject of a federal investigation, and his cohorts if he had had more time.

“As a Trump appointee, Mr. Schneider knew late last year he was almost certain to be replaced by another prosecutor once Joe Biden was inaugurated as President.

“Given that Mr. Biden gratefully accepted the endorsement of top UAW bosses back in April and the support of their forced dues-funded political machine in the months that followed, there is ample reason to doubt a Biden Justice Department will ever support a serious attempt to root out UAW corruption.”

‘The Settlement Is Watered Down From What Was Expected’

Among the doubters is Michigan law professor Erik Gordon, who right after the Schneider-Gamble announcement observed to the Detroit Free Press’s Eric D. Lawrence:

“The settlement is watered down from what was expected. The government may be anxious to get what it can before the new administration takes over in Washington, and union [bosses] seem to have taken advantage of that.”

In an open letter sent to Mr. Schneider last summer, National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix (writing in his capacity as president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation) laid out what “fundamental” reform of the UAW would entail.

The crimes of UAW chieftains, wrote Mr. Mix, were greatly facilitated by “their dual coercive powers of monopoly exclusive representation and authorization to cut deals mandating that rank-and-file workers pay union dues, or else be fired (in states without Right to Work protections).”

Mr. Schneider did not respond, and the fact is, not a single worker who is now forced to accept the representation of the corrupt UAW at the bargaining table against his or her wishes will be unshackled from that obligation by the Schneider-Gamble deal.

Moreover, not a single worker who is currently forced to fork over dues or fees to the crooked UAW as a job condition will be relieved of this oppression by the Schneider-Gamble deal.

Mr. Mourad commented:

“If the deal becomes final after receiving approval from a federal judge, Mr. Gamble and other UAW bosses will be allowed to have input as U.S. District Judge David Lawson selects an ‘independent monitor and an officer armed with investigatory, review and discipline powers.’

“The cost of hiring and retaining a monitor will be very high, likely running into the millions of dollars.

“And the cost of paying for the monitor necessitated by rampant corruption among union officials will be borne by workers. In states like Ohio, Missouri and Illinois, where compulsory unionism remains legal, production workers who balk at paying the price for the crimes others committed will be subject to termination from their jobs.”