U.S. judge approves direct election of UAW officers by Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A person carries a flag with the patch from the United Auto Workers (UAW) union during a May 1 media workers ‘meeting hosted by The NewsGuild of New York at International Workers’ Day in Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, May 1,

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) will directly elect officials following a referendum required as part of a 2020 Justice Department settlement to resolve a corruption case.

U.S. District Judge David Lawson in Detroit on Tuesday approved the result of the referendum and ordered the change by June, which will be in time for the next union election cycle. The union in 2020 also agreed to an independent court-appointed monitor as part of the Justice Department’s settlement of allegations that resulted in the convictions of two former UAW presidents, among others.

UAW officers have been elected through a delegated system rather than through direct elections. More than 63% of current and retired members voted in favor of direct elections by secret ballot.

“We will continue to work with the monitor to ensure that the UAW is completely reformed, free of corruption and fraud, and that union election will be fair,” said Dawn Ison, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Under the Department of Justice’s decree, monitor Neil Barofsky has the authority to exercise disciplinary authority within the UAW, investigate possible fraud or corruption, and seek discipline against UAW officers and members.

Barofsky will design the new electoral system after consulting with the UAW.

Numerous UAW officers pleaded guilty to embezzling millions of dollars for their personal benefits by using the funds for liquor, cigars, golf excursions and expensive hotel stays.

In August, FCA US, Stellantis’ North American subsidiary, was sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to making more than $ 3.5 million in illegal payments to UAW officers. The FCA paid a $ 30 million fine.

The UAW represents about 400,000 American workers, including workers at Detroit’s three major automakers and in other areas. At its peak in 1979, the union had a membership of about 1.5 million.

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