UAW Caught Up in Yet Another Scandal
The union's new President is being investigated for kickbacks from a swag vendor
The UAW is in more trouble as the investigation into alleged corruption within the union is now focusing on the union’s new President Rory Gamble.
Sources tell the Detroit News that federal agents are investigating financial ties between Gamble, retired Vice President Jimmy Settles and one of the union's highest-paid vendors. The investigation is looking into whether the UAW leaders received kickbacks for awarding contracts to Jason Gordon to supply the union with UAW branded merchandise. The sources, who spoke to the Detroit News anonymously, claimed that there was a “secret cash payment” that was delivered to UAW officials at the Bouzouki Greektown, a Detroit strip club.
“I would not have accepted the role of president if I couldn’t withstand the scrutiny," Gamble, 64, said in a statement to The News. "Our union has suffered enough as a result of corrupt leaders. On my watch, we cannot and will not allow financial improprieties to rob our members of their hard-earned dollars. My sole focus as president is to strengthen the union’s financial controls, oversight and accounting system — and most importantly, to restore the trust of our union members.”
The news of a new investigation comes just weeks after former President Gary Jones was forced to not only step down as President but was also forced to forfeit his membership within the union. This was due to a raid of his house by the FBI and an investigation that continues to close in on Jones. He was the third consecutive UAW President to be caught up in the probe, which has led to charges against 13 people and 11 convictions.
The announcement that Gamble and Settles are under investigation is an expansion of the years-long corruption investigation. Previously it has been focused on union and company officials who worked with GM and Fiat Chrysler. However, Gamble and Settles worked on negotiations with Ford, leading some to wonder if Ford will be the next employer to get caught up in the investigation.
While no charges have been filed against Gamble, Settles, or Gordon, this isn’t the first time Gordon has been dragged into the investigation. His company was paid $16 million to create union-branded clothes and trinkets. Last year, Gordon was subpoenaed to produce documents that showed how the money was being spent.
Since Gamble took over as President, he has instituted many reforms to try and prevent this type of corruption from happening again. Gamble “can say he never took one red cent personally from Mr. Gordon or directly solicited anything from Mr. Gordon,” said UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg in a statement. “And President Gamble has never been to that establishment with Mr. Gordon. It simply is not true and never happened."