“The culture of corruption...is systemic.”

The Department of Justice has described a "culture of corruption" among UAW senior leadership, arguing the "need to transform the unethical, greedy, and self-indulgent behavior...is long overdue."

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"Today's UAW has completely lost its way."
Two former UAW staffers

Corrupt Leadership

The federal investigation into corruption among top UAW leadership led to a total of 16 convictions, including two former UAW presidents.

Former UAW President Gary Jones pleaded guilty to helping
 divert over $1 million from the UAW for his own personal use and the use of senior UAW officials. Former UAW President Dennis Williams has also pleaded guilty to his role in the scandal. He was sentenced to 21 months in prison. 

According to the Detroit News, the investigation revealed a large-scale scheme where “UAW leaders embezzled money from worker paychecks, shook down union contractors and schemed with auto executives.” One top official even received $1.5 million in kickbacks, including $10,000 worth of cosmetic surgery for a relative. Other leaders were convicted of embezzling $1.5 million in union funds and spending it on personal luxuries, including golf outings, expensive cigars, and luxury villas.

In a settlement agreement with the federal government, the UAW agreed to be put under a federal monitor for six years in an effort to eliminate “fraud and wrongdoing within one of the nation’s most influential unions following a years-long crackdown on corrupt labor leaders.” 

Independent Monitor Reports

On May 12, 2021, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan appointed Neil M. Barofsky as the independent Monitor of the UAW. The Monitor files a written report with the District Court at least every six months.

“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.

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

July 25, 2022

Mobile Billboard

A mobile billboard ran just outside of the United Auto Workers’ constitutional convention warning attendees of union corruption.
March 13, 2022

Full-Page Ad

A full-page ad in the Chattanooga Times Free Press highlighted a quote from AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler regarding corruption at the UAW: “I am disgusted.”
October 20, 2021

Full-Page Ad

Full-page ad in the Tennessean calls for secret ballot vote at Ford plant
October 19, 2021

Tennessee considering $900M Ford incentive package

Tennessee plans to welcome a new Ford plant, but the future of UAW control at the plant remains unknown.
October 18, 2021

Full-Page Ad

Full-page ad calls for secret ballot elections at forthcoming Ford Memphis plant.
December 19, 2020

Full-Page Ad

Full-page ad in the Chattanooga Times Free Press criticizes the UAW for having members help pay the union’s legal bills.
March 9, 2020

Full-Page Ad

A full-page ad highlighting the potential for a government takeover of the UAW just as the Teamsters union is released of 30 years of government oversight.
November 6, 2019

Full-Page Ad

Full-page "WANTED" ad in the Detroit News of UAW President Gary Jones "for betraying workers' trust."
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

Everything you need to know about the union's training center scandal.
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.