The ongoing United Auto Workers scandal has reached the top of the organization. The Detroit News reported Thursday that ex-UAW president Dennis Williams OK’d the use of UAW training center funds to pay for lavish expenses.
Nancy Adams Johnson, a former high-ranking UAW official, pleaded guilty in the expanding federal probe into misappropriating training center funds. As part of her guilty plea deal, she named Williams as a co-conspirator. Williams was the union’s president from 2014 to until mid-June.
The funds were allegedly used to cover personal travel, luxury items, meals and entertainment. The investigation continues to look at possible links showing automakers gave gifts that violate labor laws and dilute the purity of labor negotiations.
Part of the reason UAW officials began to dip into the training center funds reportedly came as the union faced climbing costs. Financial pressure began to mount in 2014 when union members approved a membership due hike; the union lost $42 million in 2015.
“Sometime in 2014 or 2015, a high-level UAW official directed senior UAW officials to use money supplied by automobile manufacturing companies through joint UAW training centers to pay for travel, including travel solely for purported union business, as well as lavish meal and other entertainment costs of senior UAW officials and their friends, family and allies,” according to Adams Johnson’s plea agreement. “This directive was issued in order to reduce costs to the UAW budget from such expenditures because the UAW’s budget was under pressure.”
Williams is the highest-level official to be named in the investigation but was not reached for comment on the matter. He has not been charged with a crime at present.