June 5, 2023

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UAW has ‘fallen short’ on reform efforts, independent monitor says

Barofsky also disclosed that he closed an investigation into allegations UAW President Ray Curry in 2017 accepted use of football tickets the UAW had obtained in a vendor contract. Barofsky determined not to bring charges and instead referred the matter to the union’s ethics officer.

Curry said in an email to members he had voluntarily repaid the value of the tickets. “Despite this ruling, I am personally pained that any question whatsoever was raised as a result of any action on my part,” he added.

Curry said the union has established a new ethics hotline, hired a new external ethics officer and ethics ombudsman.

Several UAW officers, including two former UAW presidents, have pleaded guilty to embezzling millions of dollars for their personal benefit, using the funds for liquor, cigars, golf outings, related equipment and expensive hotel stays.

Barofsky said the UAW has not done “enough to respond to repeated warnings about the pressing need to transform its culture.” He added he “currently has 15 open investigations.”

The UAW represents about 400,000 U.S. workers, including workers the Detroit 3 automakers and in other fields. At its peak in 1979, the union had a membership of some 1.5 million.

Barofsky did not provide details on the open investigations. Under the Justice Department consent decree, he has authority to exercise disciplinary powers within the UAW, investigate possible fraud or corruption within the union and seek discipline against UAW officers and members.

The monitor can investigate, audit and review all aspects of the UAW other than collective bargaining agreements.

Barofsky added that his findings “should not take away from the meaningful changes that have occurred since the government started putting former UAW officials in prison.”

The UAW did not comment Thursday, Curry’s email to members said: “We continue to be committed to transparency and the substantive and ongoing Ethics Reforms package that has been instituted over the past two years.”

“The UAW continues to work cooperatively and effectively with the monitor on the implementation and development of even more checks and balances for our union” and “there are always growing pains and adjustments to new policies,” he said.

The report’s release comes ahead of a visit next week by President Joe Biden to a GM plant that is staffed by UAW members. Biden has worked to establish a strong relationship with the union and backed tax incentives for union-made vehicles.

This week, U.S. prosecutors in Detroit charged the financial secretary-treasurer of UAW Local 412 with embezzling over $2 million in union funds following a union audit.

Barofsky’s oversight of the UAW, which began in May, is scheduled to last six years, with a potential early termination or extension depending on the circumstances.