July 25, 2024
Industry News

Investigation underway into UAW president Shawn Fain; watchdog claims union’s lack of cooperation

NEW YORK — United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain is currently facing an investigation by a court-appointed watchdog who is working to eliminate corruption within the union following a bribery and embezzlement scandal that occurred a few years ago.

The watchdog, Neil Barofsky, revealed that he was looking into Fain, along with other top UAW officials, in his ninth report to Judge David M. Lawson on Monday. Barofsky also accused the union of a recent lack of cooperation with his monitoring duties, which he claimed began to deteriorate earlier this year as he delved into his investigations involving these individuals.

In a report filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit, clashes within UAW’s International Executive Board over recent months were outlined, particularly between Fain and secretary-treasurer Margaret Mock.

According to the report, in February, the board passed a motion supporting Fain that removed all non-constitutionally required field assignments from Mock and implemented other policy changes after allegations of misconduct during her financial oversight duties surfaced.

In response, Mock denied the charges and alleged that her authority was revoked in retaliation for not authorizing certain expenditures that were requested by individuals in Fain’s office. The New York Times reported that these expenditures would have benefitted the sister of Fain’s partner.

The monitor initiated investigations into Fain, Mock, and the conflicting claims. Additionally, the monitor expanded the investigation to include allegations of retaliation by Fain against a union vice president, and also began probing a regional director for potential embezzlement in a separate case.

“At this stage, it is important to emphasize that these are just allegations,” Barofsky stated, clarifying that Monday’s report should not be seen as drawing any conclusions about potential charges.

However, Barofsky emphasized the importance of having the necessary resources to complete the investigations, noting that UAW has not been fully cooperative with the process.

The monitor noticed a shift in UAW’s cooperation when the investigations began. Despite making employees and senior leaders available for interviews, the union allegedly did not provide relevant documents promptly. Barofsky claimed that only a fraction of the requested documents were provided after months of requests, with most only being produced last week.

“The Monitor’s assessment is that the Union’s delay of relevant documents is obstructing and interfering with his access to information needed for his investigative work,” Barofsky’s Monday report stated, suggesting that court intervention might be necessary if the issue is not resolved soon.

In a statement sent to The Associated Press on behalf of Fain, the UAW president mentioned that leading the union in a new direction sometimes requires challenging the status quo, but emphasized the commitment of the UAW leadership to serve the membership and operate a democratic union.

Since taking office in the spring of 2023, Fain has pledged to take a more assertive approach in negotiations with major automakers and to clean up the union as promised during his election.

No statements from Mock were provided by UAW on Tuesday. Barofsky’s report indicated that Mock has disagreed with the union’s position of non-cooperation and inconsistency with her own directive for full cooperation.

Barofsky was appointed in May 2021 as part of a settlement that prevented a government intervention in the union after a bribery and embezzlement scandal. Eleven union officials and the spouse of a deceased official were convicted in the corruption inquiry, including two former presidents who were sentenced to prison. The initial criminal charges in the investigation were filed in 2017.

This is not the first instance where the union has been accused of non-cooperation with the court-appointed monitor. In Barofsky’s third report in July 2022, UAW was accused of withholding information regarding previous misconduct allegations.

FAQ

Q: What is the current investigation involving UAW president Shawn Fain?

A: UAW president Shawn Fain is under investigation by a court-appointed watchdog for allegations of misconduct and retaliation within the union.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the ongoing investigations and allegations within the United Auto Workers union demonstrate the importance of transparency, accountability, and cooperation in upholding the integrity of the organization. The outcomes of these inquiries will likely have a significant impact on the future leadership and operations of the UAW.

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