"The investigation ... uncovered a multi-year conspiracy involving senior UAW officials..."

Multiple high-ranking union officials pleaded guilty to enriching themselves at the expense of workers. That’s just the start of the UAW’s troubles.

Corrupt Leadership

A years-long federal investigation into corruption among top UAW leadership has so far led to nine guilty pleas,  with the feds promising the investigation will continue “until we’re confident that we have leadership in the UAW that represents the men and women of the union…”  The union has spent over $1.5 million of members’ dues money to defend itself in the investigation.

The union’s current President Gary Jones and former President Dennis Williams have been implicated, and their homes were among several locations searched in a series of federal raids. The most recent conviction of Mike Grimes, former assistant to a union vice president, involved nearly $2 million in kickbacks on purchases from union vendors. Another UAW leader, Vance Pearson, was accused of stealing over a million dollars in dues money and spending it on “personal luxuries.”

In one court filing, U.S. Department of Labor agent Andrew Donohue described his office’s efforts like this: “The investigation has also uncovered a multi-year conspiracy involving senior UAW officials embezzling, stealing and unlawfully and willfully abstracting and converting UAW funds to purchase luxury items and accommodations for their own personal benefit.”

Norwood Jewell

Conspiracy to violate the Labor Management Relations Act
Jewell, former UAW International Vice President in the UAW Chrysler Department and Director of the UAW-Chrysler NTC, pleaded guilty to joining a conspiracy whereby he received money and things of value from persons acting in the interest of FCA and/or approved UAW officials to use their NTC credit cards to make over $40,000 in purchases for himself, senior UAW officials, and other UAW members.

Nancy Adams Johnson

Conspiracy to violate the Labor Management Relations Act
Johnson, a former senior official in the Chrysler Department of the UAW, pleaded guilty to receiving over $45,000. According to federal prosecutors, the cash was spent on designer shoes, travel, golf resorts and lavish meals. Johnson was sentenced to 12 months and 1 day in prison and 12 months of supervised release. She was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

Keith Mickens

Conspiracy to violate the Labor Management Relations Act
Mickens, a former senior official in the Chrysler Department of the UAW, pleaded guilty to receiving over $7,700. He also received a check for $13,500 that was used by the late-UAW Vice President General Holiefield to pay for a swimming pool at his home. Mickens received purchases of luggage, electronics, clothing, and other golf equipment. He was sentenced to 12 months in prison and 12 months of supervised release.  He was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

Virdell King

Conspiracy to violate the Labor Management Relations Act
King, a former senior official in the Chrysler Department of the UAW and former assistant director for the UAW-Chrysler NTC, pleaded guilty to receiving over $40,000, including luggage, electronics, clothing, and other golf equipment. She was sentenced to two months in prison and 12 months of supervised release.  She was ordered to pay a $5,500 fine.

Dennis Williams

Implicated in scandal, not charged
Former President of the UAW Dennis Williams has been implicated in this corruption scandal. According to the Detroit News, former union official Nancy Adams Johnson claimed Williams “told senior officials to use automakers’ funds to pay for union costs, including lavish meals [and] travel.”

Gary Jones

Implicated in scandal, not charged
Current President of the UAW Gary Jones has been implicated in this corruption scandal. According to the Detroit News, Jones is an "unnamed union official accused in a federal criminal case...of helping orchestrate a years-long conspiracy that involved embezzling member dues and spending the money on personal luxuries."

Michael Grimes

Wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering
Michael Grimes, a former assistant to a union vice president, pleaded guilty to "charges of wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering." The federal government says Grimes received almost $2 million in kickbacks from union vendors.

Vance Pearson

Charged with conspiracy to steal over $1 million in member dues, not yet convicted
According to the Detroit NewsUAW Region 5 Director Vance Pearson was charged with "helping orchestrate a more than $1 million conspiracy that involved stealing dues and spending the money on personal luxuries."

Jeffery Pietrzyk

Wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering
Jeffery Pietrzyk, former senior official in the General Motors Department of the UAW, pleaded guilty to "one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, totaling approximately $123,000."
“This positions the union not as the workers' friend but as a big powerful thing that would extort money from its own members.”
University of Michigan business professor

Lavish Lifestyles

UAW officials are known for their expensive taste. While it may not always put them behind bars, union members may be shocked to see how the union leadership is spending at least part of their dues.

From upscale restaurants to expensive hotel stays, here’s just a few examples of the UAW’s spending habits between 2013-2018:

  • Over $1 million on entertainment, including bars and casinos, professional sporting events, parties and liquor stores;
  • Over $43 million on lavish stays at hotels and resorts;
  • Over $12 million on travel including private jets, plane tickets, limousines and boat rentals;
  • Almost $4 million on nicer restaurants, bar tabs, and catering.

While its officials were under investigation for fraud and embezzlement, the UAW constructed a 1,885-square-foot cabin for former president Dennis Williams (who has been implicated in the scandal with Fiat Chrysler) using interest from the union’s $721 million strike fund, which is bankrolled by worker dues. Hypocritically, the cabin was built with the help of non-union labor in an effort to save money.

Cabin built for former UAW president Dennis Williams.
“Why am I paying union dues when the UAW won’t even protect me from sexual harassment?”
Tonya Exum, production team member at Ford’s Chicago Stamping Plant

Member Neglect

The New York Times reported on rampant sexual misconduct at Ford’s Chicago plant–enabled and sometimes committed by UAW representatives. In a Chicago Tribune op-ed, one worker detailed a history of abuse and sexual harassment. When she attempted to report the abuse, she was threatened by her own union representative who allegedly tried to run her off the road, slashed her car tires, and came to her house to harass her.

These aren’t isolated cases. For instance, a female worker in Indianapolis claimed that her attempt to report sexual harassment at her workplace resulted in over a decade of harassment from the UAW. She was allegedly denied promotions, raises, and access to meetings and was eventually fired.

This year, eight workers filed a lawsuit against the Toledo Powertrain plant alleging widespread discrimination. The UAW local president Dennis Earl denied their claims and had this to say about accusations of racism at the plant: “Do I believe people are a little too sensitive these days? Absolutely.”

UAW membership declined drastically in 2018. Perhaps a culture where the interests of union leadership are prioritized over the well-being of members has something to do with it.


“The message they have sent to their membership is we're willing to sell out union members whenever we need to cut down our costs.”
Peter Henning, Wayne State University law professor

Plant Closures

Dozens of auto plants represented by the UAW have closed over the years, putting the livelihood of thousands of employees in jeopardy.


UAW Plant Closures: Interactive Map
“This organization cannot be reformed.”
Jerry White, World Socialist Web Site

Media

October 23, 2019

Full-Page Ad

A full-page ad highlighting the decision from Spring Hill workers to reject the UAW's endorsed contract with GM ran in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
October 14, 2019

UAW Strike Benefits Everyone, Except Auto Workers

Opinion piece in the Tennessean discussing the impact of the UAW strike.
September 17, 2019

Full-Page Ad

An ad featuring recent headlines from the UAW strike against GM and the ongoing investigation into corruption at the union ran in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
September 16, 2019

Amid pressure, UAW says Gary Jones is still president

UAW President Gary Jones survived an attempt to remove him from office following his implication in the ongoing federal investigation into corruption at the union.
September 16, 2019

Future at VW Chattanooga eyed amid union loss

Workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga vote against unionizing with the UAW a second time.
June 4, 2019

Video: Darren Fish Speaks Out

Darren Fish was an autoworker for 39 years. But in his time of need, he says the UAW in Spring Hill didn't have his back.
May 17, 2019

Video: A “Culture of Corruption”

UAW whistleblower speaks out: "You are truly endorsing and empowering people who do not have your best benefit in mind."
May 17, 2019

Full-Page Ad

An ad listing auto plant closures since 1971 and the number of jobs lost or workers displaced ran in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
April 29, 2019

Billboard Campaign Targets UAW Corruption

A series of billboards in Chattanooga, TN and Detroit, MI feature facts on the UAW's ongoing corruption investigation.
April 24, 2019

UAW Probe Focuses on Kickbacks

The FBI is investigating whether union execs received kickbacks on swag purchased with dues money.
April 23, 2019

Full-Page Ad

An ad describing the UAW's "culture of corruption" ran in three papers: The Detroit News, The Detroit Free Press, and The Chattanooga Times Free Press.
April 17, 2019

Video: My Fight Against the UAW

When Ginger Estes went up against the UAW, she saw the darkest side of the union
April 17, 2019

Workers should beware the UAW

Opinion Piece by Ginger Estes, employee at the NTN-Bower Corporation in Hamilton, Alabama.
May 9, 2018

Video: Get Smart on UAW Training Center Scam

Factory worker Ginger Estes recounts her fight with the UAW in vivid and emotional detail.
January 10, 2018

Video: A Culture of Harassment

These women in Chicago have seen first-hand how UAW reps have enabled predators in the workplace.