UAW Federal Monitor Investigates Accusations Against Fain

Leadership and Internal Struggles Amid Efforts to Reform and Expand Union Influence...

UAW President Shawn Fain at a rally in Warren, Michigan. (UAW).

United Auto Workers (UAW) President Shawn Fain, who led the union in a high-profile strike against Detroit’s Big-3 automakers last fall, is now under investigation by a federal monitor. This comes as the UAW campaigns to organize non-union auto plants nationwide, a mission made more challenging by these recent controversies.

Competing Allegations –

UAW/Stellantis Vice President Rich Boyer. (UAW).

Two top union officials, Margaret Mock and Rich Boyer, have launched their own allegations of misconduct against Fain. These officials claim that Fain’s actions against them were unjustified, while Fain accuses them of mishandling their duties.

Margaret Mock, the union’s Secretary-Treasurer, was stripped of many duties by Fain, who cited “misconduct while carrying out her financial oversight responsibilities.” Mock, however, alleges that Fain retaliated against her for refusing to authorize certain expenditures.

Similarly, UAW Vice President Rich Boyer was removed from overseeing relations with Stellantis. Fain cited “dereliction of duty” regarding collective bargaining issues, but Boyer contends that Fain’s move was retaliation for his refusal to engage in financial misconduct.

Fain’s Defense – 

UAW President Shawn Fain and President Biden in front of workers in September 2023. (UAW).

Fain has defended his actions, emphasizing his commitment to reforming the union. “Taking our union in a new direction means sometimes you have to rock the boat, and that upsets some people who want to keep the status quo,” Fain said in a statement. “Our membership expects better and deserves better than the old business as usual.”

Fain’s leadership was spotlighted last fall when he led simultaneous strikes against General Motors (GM), Ford, and Stellantis, securing record wage increases and other gains for over 140,000 union members. This unprecedented move earned him national attention and an invitation to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech. Notably, this invitation followed Fain’s challenge to President Biden to join him on the picket line, a challenge the President accepted, spending a few hours there for a photo-op.

Federal Monitor’s Role – 

UAW Federal Monitor, Neil Barofsky. (Jenner & Block LLP).

The federal monitor, Neil Barofsky, was appointed as part of a 2021 consent decree to oversee the union after past corruption scandals sent previous leaders to prison. Barofsky’s recent report indicates that the union has been less cooperative in these investigations, providing only a fraction of the requested documents.

“The union has generally cooperated with my office in the past, but it has recently put roadblocks that are interfering with the monitor’s ability to promptly and credibly conduct investigations,” Barofsky wrote.

Barofsky also noted that another International Executive Board member is under investigation for alleged embezzlement. The details of this probe remain undisclosed.

Impact on Union Campaigns –

These investigations are critical for the UAW, which seeks to expand its influence by organizing non-union auto plants across the country. While the union scored a victory at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee, it recently lost a vote at a Mercedes plant in Alabama. The allegations of internal misconduct could undermine these efforts, giving non-union plants more arguments against UAW representation.

Despite the turmoil, Fain remains focused on the union’s broader goals. “We’re staying focused on winning record contracts, growing our union, and fighting for economic and social justice on and off the job,” he asserted.

Source: Detroit Free Press