DETROIT (Reuters) - The United Auto Workers is cooperating with a Justice Department probe into alleged misspending by union officials at training centres funded by U.S. automakers, the union’s president said on Friday, saying that he did not expect any more charges stemming from the probe.
“I don’t see no reason to have no cloud over anybody at this point,” UAW President Dennis Williams told reporters at the union’s Detroit headquarters. “We have spent the last several months under a magnifying glass, and rightly so.”
In July federal prosecutors accused a former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV vice president of making $1.2 million in improper payments to a former union vice president and his wife. Four people have been charged in the Fiat Chrysler probe.
In November, General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co said they were cooperating with the Justice Department probe.
Williams said the union is conducting its own investigation, led by outside attorneys and UAW general counsel Niraj Ganatra.
The UAW is readying for a leadership election next June to replace Williams. Top union officials have nominated Gary Jones, a UAW regional director, as president.
Williams said he did not expect a backlash from rank-and-file members.
“I feel very comfortable that our standing with the membership is the same,” he said.
He expressed dissatisfaction with Ford over a recent decision to shift production of a future battery electric vehicle to Mexico to make room for self-driving vehicles at the company’s Flat Rock, Michigan, plant.
“I’m not happy with Ford, with their decision,” he said. “I think that we’re missing a huge opportunity in this country.”
The UAW has struggled to organise automakers and suppliers this year.
Workers at a Fuyao Glass Industry Group Co Ltd plant in southwestern Ohio voted heavily against union representation last month. The UAW also lost a bitterly contested vote at a Nissan Motor Co Ltd plant in Mississippi in August.
Last week the National Labor Relations Board voted to make it harder to organise so-called micro unions made up of small groups of a company’s employees, posing a fresh challenge. [L1N1OG0A6]
The UAW is engaged in a lengthy battle with Volkswagen AG over the NLRB’s recognition of a vote by roughly 160 skilled workers at the automakers Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant for UAW representation.
If the NLRB moved against the VW micro union, “this is about not having the unions,” Williams said.
“That rises to a different level of how we feel about the NLRB,” he said. “Because we may have to go back to striking to get recognition if that’s how they’re gonna act.
“We’ll shut down these companies we’re organising,” he added.
Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by Leslie Adler