UAW president Gary Jones has officially distanced himself from the union after taking a temporary leave of absence earlier this month.
Jones, a UAW member since 1975, stepped away from the union this week amid the ongoing FBI corruption investigation into the organization. He has yet to be charged with any crimes, but the FBI raided his Michigan home earlier this year as it hunted for evidence that may be pertinent to the investigation.
Federal prosecutors say Jones, along with some of his former aides, embezzled union funds for their own personal benefit. In one instance, Jones, former UAW district director Vance Pearson and other top UAW officials expensed luxury goods and services to the UAW under the guise of it being part of a work trip to the union’s Region 5 Conference in California, when in reality, they were in California a week before the conference even began. This included a $6,599.87 dinner at LG Prime Steak House (with over $1,400 in wine and $1,760 in Cristal champagne) and a $2,000 purchase at Indian Canyons golf pro shop that included polo shirts, shoes, jackets and hats.
According to the Detroit Free Press, officials accuse Jones and his associates of spending more than $100,000 on golf gear across various instances, and another $60,000 on cigars and “related paraphernalia.”
“Jones had faced internal UAW Article 30 charges that would have removed him from office and from his membership,” UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg said of Jones’ departure in a prepared statement. “He had previously resigned his office as president.”
Jones was replaced by interim president Rory Gamble after he stepped down this month. Gamble guided the team that successfully negotiated a new national agreement with Ford this year and is hoping to enact reform within the union, saying it was formerly led by a “whole lot of bad actors.”
“We have to be very precise and have zero tolerance going forward in how we manage our union,” he told The Detroit News previously. “Which means we’ve got to be honest with ourselves and recognize that there was a problem, that there’s a need for great change, and we have to show that we can self-govern.”