Thursday, April 22, 2021

UAW moves to expel 8 members convicted in corruption probe

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The UAW on Friday said it took action to expel eight members who have faced charges in the government’s ongoing U.S. corruption probe of the union. All but one of the members have pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges.

The eight officials facing the UAW’s so-called Article 31 charges include Norwood Jewell, a former vice president and head of the UAW-FCA department who pleaded guilty in April of last year to violating the Labor Management Relations Act and is currently serving a 15-month prison term, as well as Joe Ashton, a former vice president and head of the UAW-GM department who pleaded guilty in December to money laundering and wire fraud and awaits sentencing.

The union also filed charges against Edward “Nick” Robinson, Nancy Johnson, Jeffrey Pietrzyk, Michael Grimes, Keith Mickens and Virdell King. All have been charged in the years-long scandal, which to date has resulted in charges against 13 people, and 11 have pleaded guilty.

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“Any UAW member who uses their position to break the law or blatantly violates the sacred oath they took to faithfully serve our members will be subject to removal from their post and expulsion from our union,” President Rory Gamble said in a statement.

“My administration, and the entire Executive Board, will continue to hold accountable those who commit criminal conduct or serious violations of our Ethical Practices Code. And we will continue to aggressively implement the critical reforms necessary to strengthen our union’s financial controls, oversight and overall accounting system to ensure the type of conduct described in these charges will not reoccur.”

The Article 31 charges were signed by every member of the union’s International Executive Board. They claim that those charged “engaged in serious misconduct in violation of the law and the Ethical Practices Code of the UAW constitution.”

The move would expel the members from the union, and they would forfeit most benefits, although a spokesman said the union does not have the power to strip their pensions.

The union late last year moved to expel former President Gary Jones and former Region 5 Director Vance Pearson by filing Article 30 charges against them, although both resigned their positions and union membership before a trial could begin. Jones has not been accused of wrongdoing, while Pearson is expected to plead guilty in court next week.

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The eight people facing Article 31 charges now face a UAW trial in the coming weeks. According to the union’s constitution, a seven-person trial committee will be selected, and if two-thirds of the committee finds the accused guilty, they can be expelled from the union.

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