A recent settlement put an end to a years-long corruption investigation at the United Auto Workers (UAW), but the punishments keep rolling in for former high-ranking officials. The investigation found that “from 2009 to 2018…the union’s top leadership embezzled millions of dollars to fund lavish lifestyles, including resort stays, golf outings, top-shelf liquor and cigars.”
Most recently, former union president Gary Jones was sentenced to 28 months in prison for “his part in a scheme with other leaders to steal as much as $1.5 million in union funds.” Jones is also required to pay $550,000 in restitution to the UAW and $42,000 to the IRS, in addition to other forfeitures.
Jones admitted that he and other top union officials used over $750,000 in union funds to pay for personal expenses, “including golf clubs, private villas, cigars, golfing apparel, green fees at golf courses, and high-end liquor and meals.” This included $60,000 to pay for cigars and custom-made golf clubs.
Jones’ sentence comes after another former union president Dennis Williams was given 21 months in prison for his role in the scandal. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to embezzle union funds and was sentenced in May 2021. In addition to jail time, Williams was “ordered to pay a $10,000 fine in addition to restitution to the UAW amounting to $132,000.”
Jones’ sentencing is one of the last to come out of this investigation that found 15 high-ranking officials guilty of being involved in the scandal.
As a result of the corruption investigation, the union has been placed under a six-year federal monitorship. As we’ve said before, this oversight is a good first step to ensuring meaningful reforms take root at the UAW — but it’s not free. The current UAW President Rory Gamble expects the monitorship will be a “costly” expense — one that will be covered by members’ dues.
While workers aren’t off the hook just yet, let’s hope acting United States Attorney Saima S. Mohsin’s statement on the sentencing holds true: “The working men and women of the UAW can feel that justice was done, and that their union is on the road to reform.”