UAW Chieftain Gary Jones Resigns as GM Department Scandal Widens

Gary Jones’ tenure as head of the United Auto Workers was brief. But he and the union are preparing for what may be a long ordeal. On November 20, Jones, beset by a slew of federal corruption charges involving millions of dollars in illegal payoffs exacted from vendors by ex-officials of the UAW’s General Motors Department, abruptly resigned as president. Nine days later, he ended his union membership. The actions occurred shortly after the UAW executive board filed paperwork to expel him and a regional director, Vance Pearson. While Jones has not been accused of anything (yet), his home was one of several sites raided in August by federal agents. In a related event, GM last month filed a racketeering suit against Fiat Chrysler on grounds that the latter misused the collective bargaining process to facilitate a merger.

In normal times, the 400,000-member, Detroit-based United Auto Workers might … Read More ➡

Ex-UAW Official Pleads Guilty to Receiving Bribes, Kickbacks

The strike by nearly 50,000 United Auto Workers against General Motors ended after nearly six weeks on October 25. But Jeffrey Pietrzyk’s troubles are far from over. On October 22, Pietrzyk, a retired top aide to ex-UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, pleaded guilty in Ann Arbor federal court to honest services fraud and money laundering charges in connection with his acceptance of about $123,000 in bribes and kickbacks from union vendors. He had been charged on September 20. His offenses were part of a dozen-year, $2 million scheme in the union’s GM Department led by now-convicted ex-UAW official Michael Grimes. The actions follow an investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Union Corruption Update covered this scandal in August and September. The United Auto Workers’ General Motors Department, like its Chrysler Department, has been the focus … Read More ➡

UAW Boss Pleads Guilty, Another Charged in Criminal Schemes

When it comes to self-dealing, the United Auto Workers’ General Motors Department might rival its Chrysler Department. On September 4, Michael Grimes (in photo), a now-retired senior UAW official, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to honest services fraud and money laundering in connection with his receipt of over $1.5 million in illegal payoffs from UAW vendors over a dozen years. Eight days later, on September 12, a prominent union regional official, Vance Pearson, was arrested and charged with fraud, embezzlement and money laundering connected to separate schemes. The actions follow a joint investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Union Corruption Update described the case of Michael Grimes a few weeks ago. Grimes, now 65 and living in Fort Myers, Fla., had served as a $150,000-a-year administrative assistant to United … Read More ➡

Feds Raid UAW Presidents’ Homes, Conference Center; Charge Ex-Union Official

A few weeks ago, U.S. Attorney for Eastern Michigan Matthew Schneider said after the sentencing of a United Auto Workers official, “We’re not done.” He wasn’t kidding. This Wednesday, FBI and IRS agents in four states raided the homes of UAW President Gary Jones (in photo) and former UAW President Dennis Williams, plus the union’s rural Michigan conference retreat/training center and a couple of other sites in search of evidence of corruption. The actions follow the convictions of several UAW and Chrysler officials for their roles in a bribery and embezzlement scheme, and charges announced this August 14 against now-retired union senior official Michael Grimes for receiving the bulk of nearly $2 million in vendor kickbacks. He pleaded not guilty to wire fraud and money laundering on Wednesday.

Union Corruption Update has covered the United Auto Workers-Fiat Chrysler scandal since it broke wide open in July 2017. The focus … Read More ➡

Ex-UAW Vice President Sentenced for Taking Bribes from Chrysler

Norwood Jewell believed that he was overdue for a slice of the good life. As it turned out, his life is anything but good. This Monday, August 5, Jewell, a former vice president of the United Auto Workers (UAW), was sentenced in Detroit federal court to 15 months in prison for accepting as much as $95,000 in bribes from officials of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in return for dropping certain union demands during contract talks several years ago. He had been charged this March, pleading guilty in April. His conviction was the eighth resulting from a joint probe by the FBI, the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General into the misuse of an estimated $4.5 million from the Chrysler-funded National Training Center.

Norwood Jewell, now 61, a resident of Swartz Creek (near Flint), Mich., headed the UAW’s Fiat Chrysler operations from 2014 … Read More ➡

Chattanooga VW Workers Again Vote to Remain Nonunion Despite No Support from Management

Give the United Auto Workers credit: It doesn’t give up easily. But the union’s years-long effort to organize the Volkswagen assembly plant in Chattanooga once again has met with defeat. Last Friday, June 14, VW management announced that its full-time permanent workers there had voted to reject union representation. The 833-776 margin was even closer than the 712-626 “no” vote in February 2014. UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg claims the outcome was due to outside manipulation. This assertion resembles the rhetoric during the previous aftermath when the UAW called upon the National Labor Relations Board to nullify the result, a complaint it eventually dropped. VW headquarters in Germany, while not formally capitulating to the union as before, remains a passive partner.

The Chattanooga Volkswagen facility has been an organizing prize for the United Auto Workers since its spring 2011 grand opening. Built on a 1,400-acre site in an industrial park, … Read More ➡

UAW Vice President Charged in Chrysler Scandal; Pleads Guilty

For a while, Norwood Jewell managed to avoid prosecution in the Fiat Chrysler-United Auto Workers pay-to-play scandal that so far has produced over a half-dozen convictions. But his run of good luck has ended. Yesterday, April 2, Jewell, a UAW vice president until last year, pleaded guilty in Detroit federal court to illegally accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from Chrysler executives via the employer-funded National Training Center. He had been charged on March 18. His offenses were part of a wide-ranging probe into a years-long pattern of bribery and embezzlement involving an estimated $4.5 million in NTC funds. Jewell is set for sentencing in August. The latest charges loom especially significant given that the UAW’s current contract with Chrysler, General Motors and Ford expires in September.

Union Corruption Update has described this investigation on numerous occasions since the initial indictments came down in July 2017. Certain officials … Read More ➡

UAW Local President in Illinois Sentenced for Embezzlement

On February 25, Anthony Edmunds, former president of United Auto Workers Local 2419, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois to three years of probation and one year of home confinement for embezzling $19,482 in funds from the Danville, Ill. union. He also was ordered to pay full restitution and a $100 assessment. Edmunds had pleaded guilty last October after being indicted in December 2017. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Top Ten Union Corruption Stories of the Year

The year 2018 saw the indictment, conviction and sentences of plenty of organized labor scams. New York City played host to some of the largest. For sheer magnitude, nothing anywhere could match the network of union fraud surrounding the construction of Hudson Yards, a large-scale, mixed-use development on Manhattan’s West Side. Set for completion in 2024, the project from the start has been a source of easy money for labor organizations affiliated with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. The general contractor, Related Companies, having reached the limits of frustration, filed suit last March with the State Supreme Court against the council and its president for promoting or allowing illegal practices that allegedly have added over $100 million to the total project cost.

In other cases from the Big Apple, the president of a United Industrial and Service Employees local, Rocco Fazzolari, pleaded guilty … Read More ➡

New Jersey Executive Pleads Guilty to UAW Benefit Fraud

First, the union leader pleaded guilty. Then, it was his business partner’s turn. On December 14, Lawrence Ackerman, head of a pair of shell insurance brokerages, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to a superseding information for health care fraud, part of a long-running scheme that fleeced a United Auto Workers benefit plan and a Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliate out of a combined $6.6 million. He had been indicted in January 2017. Sergio Acosta, former president of United Auto Workers Local 2326, pleaded guilty to his role in the scam last April. The actions follow a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Union Corruption Update has covered this case twice before (here and here). Lawrence Ackerman, now 54, a resident of Old Tappan (Bergen County), N.J., was … Read More ➡