U.A.W.’s Monitor Investigates Accusations Against Its Leader, Shawn Fain

A court-appointed monitor overseeing the operations of the United Automobile Workers union is investigating disputes involving the union’s president, Shawn Fain, and two U.A.W. officials who say they were improperly stripped of duties.

The monitor, Neil M. Barofsky, also accused the union on Monday of a “lapse in cooperation” with the investigation, saying it had taken months to turn over relevant documents and then provided only a small fraction of those requested.

The union declined to comment.

The assertions at issue were included in a report filed in federal court in Michigan about Mr. Barofsky’s tenure as monitor, which began in 2021 as part of a consent decree after Justice Department investigations that resulted in the convictions of several union officials, including two past presidents, on corruption charges.

That process also resulted in the union’s first election of a president by a vote of the full membership — balloting that elevated Mr. Fain, running as an insurgent candidate, to the top job in a runoff last year.

One matter now under investigation, according to the filing, stems from a dispute over the role of the union’s secretary-treasurer, Margaret Mock. In February, the union’s international executive board voted to support Mr. Fain’s move to strip Ms. Mock of duties not mandated under the union constitution, on allegations that she “had engaged in misconduct while carrying out her financial oversight responsibilities,” according to the report.

Ms. Mock denied the allegations and asserted that the move had been “improperly instigated in retaliation for her refusal or reluctance to authorize certain expenditures” for the president’s office, the report said.

In addition, the report said Mr. Barofsky’s staff was investigating allegations by a vice president who last month was stripped of oversight of the union’s Stellantis department. According to the report, the union said the action had been taken against the vice president, Rich Boyer, because of “dereliction of duty,” but the official claimed that he had been a victim of retaliation for “refusing to engage in acts of financial misconduct to benefit others.”

The union had made officials and members available to be interviewed by investigators, the monitor’s report said, but “effectively slow-rolled the monitor’s access to requested documents,” numbering about 116,000. About 2,600 documents had been handed over, the report said, mostly in the last few days.

The monitor’s report did not request any action by the court, leaving the next steps in the investigation unclear.

While the union’s legacy of corruption hung over its most recent election, it was another issue — a vow to be tough in contract talks with the Detroit automakers, and to discard “company unionism” — that carried Mr. Fain to the presidency.

He delivered on that promise in negotiations last fall, gradually escalating pressure in six weeks of walkouts at selected Ford, General Motors and Stellantis plants on the way to securing some of the union’s biggest gains in decades.

In the midst of that effort, there were signs of tension involving Ms. Mock, who expressed concern to fellow board members about the cost of the walkouts to the union’s budget. She proposed scaling back spending on organizing during the strikes, but the board set aside the proposal at a special meeting, The New York Times reported, citing two people familiar with the meeting.

Ms. Mock and Mr. Boyer could not be reached on Monday for comment for this article.

According a union biography, Ms. Mock became active in U.A.W. affairs after being hired at a Chrysler plant in 1994. The biography calls her “an experienced financial officer and a fierce protector of the interests of U.A.W. members.”

Mr. Boyer joined the union in 1985 at a Chrysler factory and held union roles for almost three decades, according to the union website.

An electrician and a grandson of a U.A.W. member, Mr. Fain entered the union in 1994, also at a Chrysler plant. Chrysler is now part of Stellantis.

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