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New UAW acting president vows to “bring integrity back to this union”

UAW workers went on strike in Flint Monday.
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
UAW members who work at GM plants recently wrapped up a 40-day strike after ratifying a contract with the automaker.

The  federal corruption probe into the UAW marches on.

On Wednesday, retired union vice president Joe Ashton became the 13th and highest-ranking person to be charged in the investigation. Union president Gary Jones has taken a leave of absence.

The union's vice president Rory Gamble, who recently negotiated the contract agreement with Ford, is now the UAW's acting president.

Gamble said he will be presenting “very hard and very unpopular” proposals on Thursday at the UAW board meeting in an effort to root out corruption. 

While Jones was president, he vowed to win back the trust of the rank-and-file with his “clean-slate agenda.” Instead, he stands accused of using union dollars to finance a “lavish lifestyle.” Dennis Williams, who preceded Jones as the union's president, had promised to get rid of corruption, too. Williams is also implicated in the federal investigation.

Gamble said he understands the union members’ distrust of leadership, and is equally appalled by the allegations. He told Stateside he will be a leader union members can trust. To accomplish this, Gamble said, he needs the support of the full UAW board to "bring integrity back to this union." 

“My first priority is to my members," he said. "To me, I was always taught due money was sacred. And that is something that you do not mess around with." 

During the union's 40-day strike against General Motors, union member Sean Crawford told Stateside that the allegations tarnish the union’s reputation and “do a disservice to the memory of the people who fought and died for this union to make it what it is.” Crawford is an employee at the GM Flint truck assembly plant.

Gamble said the UAW is “definitely in crisis mode.” But he hopes after implementing his proposed changes, he'll be able to hand over “a clean and uncorrupted union” to the next president.

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Catherine Nouhan.

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