Nearly 50,000 members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) traded in their work uniforms for picket signs on Monday morning as part of the union’s strike against General Motors.
UAW Vice President Terry Dittes said the strike “is the union’s last resort but is needed because the sides are far apart in negotiating a new four-year contract.” But the strike’s convenient timing suggests the decision had less to do with the union’s dissatisfaction over contract negotiations, and more to do with the growing corruption scandal surrounding the UAW.
Until now, current union President Gary Jones had escaped any formal scrutiny in the ongoing federal investigation at the union. But just last week, the US District Court of Eastern Michigan unsealed a criminal complaint which indicted UAW Region 5 Director Vance Pearson and implicated UAW President Gary Jones as a co-conspirator.
Pearson and other officials, including Jones, are charged with embezzling over one million dollars in members’ dues. To mask their crimes, Jones apparently directed UAW Region 5 officials to set up a “Master Account” with the hotel where their annual conference was held.
In one particularly damning example, former Vice President Norwood Jewell hosted two parties totaling over $50,000. Included at these parties were thousands of dollars of ultra-premium liquor, cigars, and provocatively dressed “kandy girls” to light the cigars of the unions officials.
Given the new information about Jones’ involvement, it’s a wonder he survived the recent attempt to remove him from office. But it makes the call to strike that followed almost immediately after — shutting down 33 manufacturing plants in nine states — even more suspicious.
It seems the UAW will stop at nothing to distract the public from the union’s “culture of corruption” — even if it means jeopardizing the livelihoods of thousands of auto workers.