United Auto Workers President Gary Jones delivers remarks at the opening plenary session of the National Association of the Advancement for Colored People’s annual convention in Detroit, July 22, 2019.
Rebecca Cook | Reuters
DETROIT – The executive board of the United Auto Workers has started the process to remove President Gary Jones from his position and the union.
Jones took a leave of absence from the union on Nov. 4, days after being implicated as part of a multiyear federal investigation into corruption of the UAW. Jones has not been charged by U.S. prosecutors, but federal agents raided his home in August.
The union on Wednesday said all acting members of the UAW International Executive Board supported the move to file charges under the union’s constitution to remove Jones as well as Vance Pearson from their elected positions and expel them from the union. Pearson is a regional director who was charged with embezzling union funds, among other crimes, in September.
“This is a somber day, but our UAW Constitution has provided the necessary tools to deal with these charges,” UAW Acting President Rory Gamble said in a statement. “We are committed at the UAW to take all necessary steps including continuing to implement ethics reforms and greater financial controls to prevent these type of charges from ever happening again.”
The constitutional action, known as Article 30, asserts Jones and Pearson “directed the submission of false, misleading and inaccurate expense records to the UAW Accounting Department and further concealed the true information concerning those expenses, in violation of the UAW’s Ethical Practices Code and applicable federal labor laws.”
The push to remove Jones and Pearson from the union comes a week after Gamble enacted several reforms in an effort to prevent and root out corruption amid an ongoing federal investigation involving bribery and embezzlement by union officials.
Gamble told CNBC earlier this month that he supported Jones’ leave of absence not because he necessarily believed Jones is guilty but because it was Jones’ choice and he is “innocent until proven guilty.” At that time, Gamble said if Jones is convicted, he would then support the union stripping Jones of his title.
“If that happens — I pray that it doesn’t, I pray that he is successful in defending his name — but in the event that happens, we are duty-bound to protect this organization,” he said.
Gamble previously said he is “confident” the union’s “remaining board members are clean.”
The UAW’s actions come hours after General Motors filed a federal racketeering lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler and former executives, accusing the automaker of bribing union officials to get favorable terms in three labor contracts under former CEO Sergio Marchionne.