UAW President Shawn Fain Under Investigation By Federal Monitor

Wim De Gent
By Wim De Gent
June 11, 2024US News
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UAW President Shawn Fain Under Investigation By Federal Monitor
Shawn Fain, President of the United Auto Workers (UAW) speaks as President Joe Biden (not pictured) joins striking members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) on the picket line outside the GM's Willow Run Distribution Center, in Belleville, Wayne County, Mich., on Sept. 26, 2023. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

United Auto Workers (UAW) President Shawn Fain is under investigation by an independent federal monitor over allegations of power abuse and subsequent obstruction of the investigation, according to a court filing on Monday.

The union’s federal court-appointed monitor, Neil Barofsky, submitted a 36-page report to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on Monday. The ninth report disclosed that an investigation was launched in February after complaints and that the UAW had recently “lapsed” in its cooperation with the monitor.

In one of the allegations, UAW Secretary-Treasurer Margaret Mock claimed she had faced retaliation for her refusal or reluctance to authorize certain expenditures for Mr. Fain’s office.

The report said Ms. Mock was withdrawn from field assignments “not constitutionally required to be within her remit,” in February over alleged “misconduct while carrying out her financial oversight responsibilities.” The Secretary-Treasurer denied the allegations and lodged her own set of charges against Mr. Fain, claiming “the removal of her authority was improperly instigated in retaliation,” according to the report. The dispute soon became public, prompting the monitor to open an investigation.

Mr. Barofsky was appointed as a federal monitor in 2021 as the UAW grappled with a corruption scandal, which included a $2 million embezzlement scheme. The scandal resulted in the federal convictions of several former leaders, and two former UAW presidents were sentenced to prison time as part of the probe.

Mr. Fain said in a statement that he encouraged the monitor “to investigate whatever claims are brought to their office, because we know what they’ll find: a UAW leadership committed to serving the membership, and running a democratic union.”

Mr. Fain added, “Taking our union in a new direction means sometimes you have to rock the boat, and that upsets some people who want to keep the status quo.”

The monitor expanded his investigation to include Mr. Fain’s allegations against the leader of the union’s Stellantis department, Rich Boyer. Mr. Fain took over Mr. Boyer’s duties at the end of May.

Mr. Fain alleged Mr. Boyer’s responsibilities were reassigned because of his “dereliction of duty” in connection with collective bargaining issues.

The monitor later received complaints that Mr. Fain’s decision was an act of retaliation because Mr. Boyer refused to engage in acts of financial misconduct to benefit others, according to the court filing.

The monitor complained about “the union’s lack of cooperation,” specifically delaying to produce requested documents to an extent that the Department of Justice called “unacceptable.”

“As of the date of this Report, the Union has produced approximately 2,600 of the 116,000 potentially responsive documents. Almost all of these documents (over 2,100) were produced on June 6, 2024,” the report states.

The Department of Justice also informed the monitor that the union’s attitude was “making it difficult, if not impossible, for the Monitor to fulfill his mandate to remove fraud, corruption and illegality from within the UAW,” the filing said.

Mr. Fain, a 29-year member of the UAW, assumed his leading post last year after narrowly winning the first direct election in the union’s history, promising to root out the culture of top-down leadership and backroom deals that had been plaguing the union.

Reuters contributed to this article.

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