U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider wants to settle the issue of UAW reforms by the end of this year.
A time frame for the ending of the ongoing corruption investigation, which he said includes both Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, is less clear.
While the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the UAW can hammer out the details of reforms within a specific amount of time, criminal investigations don’t follow the same process, Schneider said, noting that his office continues to get tips.
But a federal takeover of the UAW in reaction to the corruption probe appears less likely now than it once might have.
“We can set a goal to get (the reforms) resolved by the end of this year … by the end of 2020 we have the union in a good place with good leadership,” Schneider said Thursday. “I don’t want to run the union. My goal is to get the UAW in a position that it runs itself and that the leadership of the UAW is not corrupt.”
Schneider, calling the discussion “very cordial,” indicated that he’d had a “really good meeting” with UAW President Rory Gamble on June 30. The two met to discuss union reforms, which could include an independent monitor, union democracy and third-party oversight of future agreements.
“I thought it was productive and positive,” Schneider said. “I met him once … but I would be happy to meet him again and talk with him again. Right now, our teams are working so well together that that doesn’t seem to be needed today.”
Brian Rothenberg, a spokesman for the UAW, said “by agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s office, we are not commenting on the discussions. We can say they are continuing.”
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Schneider spoke to the Free Press on the same day his office charged ex-UAW President Dennis Williams with conspiracy to embezzle union funds, which could carry a five-year prison sentence if he’s convicted. That charge was filed as an information and would typically indicate Williams is likely to plead guilty.
When asked about whether or when that might happen, Schneider said that’s a question for Williams and his attorney, neither of whom could be reached for comment. Williams is the second ex-UAW president and the 15th former union or FCA official to be charged to date. The other former union president, Gary Jones, is awaiting sentencing.
Schneider did not offer specifics about the investigations into the automakers, although in reference to Ford he indicated it was related to the worker training centers that had been a feature of each of the Detroit Three. The early public stages of the investigation, when FCA’s former lead labor negotiator Alphons Iacobelli was indicted in 2017, had focused on FCA’s center, which like the others was jointly run with the union. The probe eventually widened beyond misuse of funds meant for worker training to other types of wrongdoing, including kickbacks and bribes.
FCA has acknowledged that it’s been in discussions with the Justice Department on a possible resolution. Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker, in responding to questions about the investigation, said, “as always, we would cooperate with any inquiries.”
General Motors is not a target of the investigation, Schneider said, reiterating what his office had indicated previously.