In honor of President’s Day, the United Auto Workers (UAW) launched a series of videos to highlight their presidents, both past and present. But not everyone made the cut. Conveniently, the union decided to skip over about half a decade and two pretty consequential union leaders.
Anyone watching the videos will notice the years 2014-2019 are missing. The UAW might be taking a page out of the Soviet Union’s playbook by trying to rewrite history, but we’re more than happy to set the record straight.
Let’s start with Dennis Williams, who served as President of the UAW from 2014 to 2018. Williams was “convicted of conspiring with at least six other senior UAW officials in a multi-year conspiracy to embezzle money” from the union. He helped conceal hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal expenses which included “multi-month long stays at private villas in Palm Springs, cigars, golfing apparel, green fees at golf courses, and high-end liquor and meals.”
For his role in the corruption scheme, Williams was sentenced to 21 months in prison and forced to pay $15,459 in restitution to the IRS as well as $132,517 in restitution to the UAW.
Let’s not forget about Williams’ partner in crime, former President Gary Jones, who led the union from June 2018 to November 2019. Similar to Williams, Jones also enjoyed a lavish lifestyle on his members’ dime. He admitted to using members’ dues to pay for numerous personal expenses, including “golf clubs, private villas, cigars, golfing apparel, green fees at golf courses, and high-end liquor and meals costing over $750,000 in UAW funds.” He even used dues dollars to purchase “over $60,000 in cigars and four sets of custom-made golf clubs for the use of high-level UAW officials.”
Jones was sentenced to 28 months in prison and forced to pay $550,000 in restitution to the UAW as well as $42,000 restitution to the IRS.
Poor Dennis was also ordered to forfeit a custom-made set of Titleist golf clubs and various golf clothing as part of a court order, while Gary was ordered to return four sets of custom-made golf clubs himself. The horror! Here’s to hoping their short game won’t suffer.
It’s no wonder the UAW wants to erase these two from history. But as the union attempts to reform itself – now under the guidance of a court-appointed independent monitor – the corruption of the past should be a lesson to both union leaders and members, not a secret to be swept under the rug.
As we await the results of the latest election for UAW President, let’s hope the next leader prioritizes union members over their golf game.