Members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) labor union will participate in a direct election of UAW officers following approval by a U.S. judge. The change follows a referendum resulting from a 2020 Justice Department probe into union corruption.
According to a recent report from Reuters, U.S. District Judge David Lawson approved the results of the referendum and ordered that direct elections are implemented this June. More than 63 percent of current and retired members voted in favor of direct elections via secret ballot. The direct election system will be in place for the next UAW election cycle. Previously, UAW officers were elected via a delegate system.
Additionally, the UAW will be overseen by an independent court-appointed monitor, per the Justice Department settlement.
“We will continue to work with the monitor to ensure that the UAW is fully reformed, free of corruption and fraud, and that the union’s elections will be fair,” said U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Dawn Ison.
As GM Authority covered in 2020, federal prosecutors opened an investigation into the UAW in 2017 following the discovery of millions in embezzled funds, which were spent for the personal benefit of UAW officers, including vacation villas, golf equipment, liquor, cigars, solid-gold pens, and even a Ferrari.
The deal between the UAW and U.S. Justice Department enabled the labor union to avoid a takeover by the federal government.
Although General Motors was not involved in the corruption case, GM’s crosstown rival, Stellantis, was. In August, FCA US was sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to more than $3.5 million in illegal bribes to UAW officers, resulting in a $30 million fine.
At present, the UAW represents roughly 400,000 U.S. workers. It’s estimated that roughly 48,500 GM workers are represented by the UAW.