It's been coming for weeks: Former UAW President Gary Jones has been federally charged with embezzlement from the union he once led.
Multiple media sources are reporting Jones will plead guilty and cooperate with law enforcement, in a case that could lead to the government taking over the UAW, as it did with the Teamsters in 1989.
Jones is the highest-ranking UAW official charged during a years-long crackdown on corruption within the U.S. auto industry that has produced 13 convictions and revealed labor leaders and auto executives broke federal labor laws, stole union funds and received bribes. The investigation has pushed the UAW to the brink of a federal takeover being considered by prosecutors to root out pervasive corruption.
Jones, 63, was charged in a criminal information, which indicates a guilty plea is imminent, following months of increasing pressure from investigators. The investigators are armed with bank records and cooperation from several Jones aides who admitted helping embezzle money from rank-and-file workers that was spent on personal luxuries, including private villas, lavish travel, food, liquor and golf.
“Jones is a guy who contributed to taking down the union and now he may cooperate in a process that saves the union from its leadership,” said Erik Gordon, a University of Michigan business professor.
“This could be a favorable development for the union, if by union you mean all the people who get up at 5 a.m. and go to work everyday, as opposed to the people who sun themselves at resorts," Gordon added.
Jones resigned in November. The case will be discussed by U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider and other federal officials at a 1:30 p.m. press conference downtown.