Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

UAW Spent Big To Defend Guilty Ex-Prez, and Other Officials

The United Auto Workers (UAW) is still embroiled in an ongoing corruption scandal that goes all the way to the top of the union’s leadership.

Most recently, former UAW President Gary Jones pleaded guilty to helping embezzle hundreds of thousands of members’ dues dollars, making him the 14th official to be found guilty in the federal investigation. Another former union president Dennis Williams, who has been implicated in the crime — though not formally charged —  just paid back $55,000 of “inappropriate travel expenses” to the union.

The union’s finances over the past several years remain under scrutiny. Now, the UAW’s latest financial filing with the Department of Labor is publicly available — and it includes some eye opening expenses.

According to the union’s 2019 LM-2 form, the UAW spent more than $2.3 million on legal fees related to the federal corruption investigation. This includes thousands of dollars spent defending now-convicted Jones, as well as Williams.

The UAW has paid “more than $1.9 million to the Chicago law firm Cotsirilos, Tighe, Streicker, Poulos & Campbell since 2015,” when the federal investigation into the union started heating up. An itemized breakdown of the union’s legal expenses last year includes: $320,912 for Dennis Williams; $68,094 for Retired Secretary/Treasurer Gary Casteel; and $24,599 for Gary Jones.

That’s not the only law firm the union has paid millions of dollars to in recent years. Since 2015, the UAW has paid DC-based law firm Bredhoff & Kaiser, PLLC almost $2 million. This is the same law firm the union hired to conduct an “independent” investigation into recent allegations of sexual harassment against UAW executive board member and regional director Richard Rankin. Based on the union’s history with Bredhoff & Kaiser, we’ve questioned how truly “independent” this investigation can possibly be. 

To help explain some of its legal bills, the UAW holds that it’s “been the practice” of the union to cover legal costs for current and former leaders. We wonder if the UAW’s members will agree with the union using their hard earned dues money to defend the same union bosses that stole from them.  

Categories: Crime & CorruptionUAW