Federal prosecutors announced a settlement with the embattled United Auto Workers union that includes an independent monitor to fight corruption that ran rampant among executives in recent years.
Under a consent order filed Monday by both parties -- which must be approved by a judge -- the appointed monitor would have disciplinary powers within the UAW and could investigate possible fraud or corruption.
Additionally, the union will conduct a secret-ballot referendum to see if members prefer to vote directly for their leaders instead of continuing to let delegates do so.
The proposed settlement to resolve a criminal and civil investigation of the UAW comes after a tumultuous and corrupt stretch for a union that long had enjoyed an honest reputation. The years long FBI probe resulted in more than a dozen convictions of auto industry figures, including former UAW presidents Gary Jones and Dennis Williams. Current union President Rory Gamble isn't a subject of any ongoing investigation, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider says.
“Today’s agreement builds upon the many reforms that the UAW has initiated and put in place ourselves over the past 13 months," Gamble said in a statement. "This civil resolution brings to a close the government’s investigation and is testament to the hard work that has been done to make the necessary structural and cultural changes."
Schneider applauded the agreement.
“Today’s settlement provides independent oversight to investigate and eliminate corruption within the union. It also brings real democratic change to the union by giving the membership the opportunity to decide for themselves whether to institute a direct election system," he said in a statement. "I am truly thankful to President Rory Gamble for his good faith willingness to press for real reform within the union.”