UAW president Gary Jones abruptly stepped down from his position with the union Wednesday.
Jones’ departure comes amid a widening federal corruption investigation into the labor union and follows General Motors’ new lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which claims it bribed top UAW officials to get a favorable labor contract with it in 2011 and again in 2015.
Jones, along with some of his former aides, have been implicated in the FBI investigation and are accused of misusing union funds from member dues for their personal gain and then attempting to cover up the evidence.
The UAW board had unanimously agreed to relieve Jones from his role as president, but he elected to step down himself after learning about the decision.
Earlier this month, Jones had taken a leave of absence from the union after more information with regard to the FBI probe came to light. He was replaced by interim president Rory Gamble, who led the team that successfully negotiated a new national agreement with Ford this year.
GM filed a federal racketeering lawsuit against FCA just hours before Jones departure was announced. The automaker accused former FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne of approving more than $1.5 million in bribes for UAW officials in order to help it get a favorable labor contract. GM’s suit also alleges that Marchionne conspired with the UAW to force higher labor costs onto GM and force it to merge with FCA as its operating costs rose. Marchionne had previously sought to merge FCA with GM, but was turned down.
Acting UAW president Gamble said previously that he believes that the UAW’s remaining board members are “clean.” Gamble presented reform acts to the UAW board last week and hopes they will help to expose and eventually root out corrupt members.
“I think they’re very creative and they will get us to where we need to be,” Gamble told CNBC. “They are very different than how we’ve operated in the past, and I think we need to do that at this point in time to save our union.”