UAW, prosecutor consider a monitor for avoiding corruption

TOM KRISHER
FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2019, file photo, Rory Gamble, acting head of the United Auto Workers union, answers questions in Southfield, Mich. A federal prosecutor and the United Auto Workers president are looking at using an independent monitor to make sure that a wide-ranging union corruption scandal never happens again. The monitor was one option discussed during a two-hour meeting Tuesday between UAW President Gamble and Matthew Schneider, the U.S. Attorney in Detroit, according to a joint statement. The meeting was held as the union tries to reform itself and hold off a possible federal takeover. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

DETROIT (AP) — A federal prosecutor and the United Auto Workers president are looking at using an independent monitor to make sure that a wide-ranging union corruption scandal never happens again.

The monitor was one option discussed during a two-hour meeting Tuesday between UAW President Rory Gamble and Matthew Schneider, the U.S. Attorney in Detroit, according to a joint statement. The meeting was held as the union tries to reform itself and hold off a possible federal takeover.

Ten union officials have pleaded guilty in the scandal, with some spending thousands in union money for golf, lodging and fancy meals.

Gamble and Schneider also discussed the importance of democracy in the union, according to the statement. Schneider, whose office has been investigating union corruption since 2015, has floated the idea of a government takeover of the UAW and has advocated for direct voting by members to elect union leadership. Currently the union's roughly 400,000 members vote on delegates to a convention, who then vote on a president.

In the statement, Schneider appeared to back off from the takeover possibility, saying he looks forward to a “mutually agreeable resolution that will protect the interests of the UAW’s members and their families.” Gamble and other union officials oppose a government takeover.

An independent monitor would give union members the assurance of reforms “so as to reduce the possibility of a recurrence of corruption,” the statement said. Both sides discussed a number of reform options and agreed to meet again in the coming weeks, according to the statement.

Neither side would comment beyond the statement, other than to say that no date has been set for another meeting.

Among the union officials to plead guilty is former President Gary Jones, who was accused of conspiring with UAW cronies to embezzle more than $1 million. The government said union money was spent on golf, cigars, spas, high-end lodging and booze.

Former President Dennis Williams has not been charged in the case, but his California home was raided by federal agents last summer. The union said Monday that Williams has repaid $55,000 in inappropriate travel expenses.