The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

The UAW and the Federal Government

Mar 16, 2020

A former president of the United Auto Workers, Gary Jones—now expelled from the UAW—was charged with embezzlement and a federal tax crime on March 5. The criminal filing indicated that Jones will plead guilty and cooperate with the feds in their investigation of the UAW.

In other words, federal prosecutors decided to partner with a corrupt person, who has led a scheme to rip off the UAW for several million dollars. Of course, he will practically get a pass. The question in front of workers is, what is the federal government hoping to achieve out of this corrupt partnership?

So far, 14 people have been charged with criminal activity as part of the federal investigation. This includes 3 Fiat Chrysler company executives and 11 UAW officials.

“We haven’t taken government oversight off the table,” said the federal prosecutor heading up the investigation. This admission—that the government is aiming its riflescope at the UAW—in reality means that the government is aiming to tear up the organized labor movement. The prosecutor specifically pointed to the Teamsters Union, which spent over 20 years under federal receivership, as a “good model.”

Teamsters workers—who lost retiree healthcare at age 65 and part of their pensions during this federal take-over—were robbed by this “good model.”

And during the government take-over, when workers elected as their President Ron Carey, he led a successful strike in 1997 that fought turning full-time jobs into part-time jobs at half wages. The federal government, siding with the wealthy, used their influence—and allegations of corruption—to banish Carey from the Teamsters for life. Later, Carey was vindicated and found innocent by a jury of all corruption charges!

The Trump-appointed federal attorney prosecuting these cases, Matthew Schneider, is the former lead attorney for the State of Michigan who oversaw the City of Detroit bankruptcy for Governor Snyder. This was the bankruptcy that resulted in the loss of pension money and retiree healthcare by City of Detroit workers.

A government takeover of the UAW would be like the appointment of an emergency manager. How did it go in Flint Michigan, when Governor Snyder appointed an Emergency Manager to run the city of Flint? Because a bribery scandal was a justification given at that time! How many died in Flint from the poisoning of the water as the Emergency Manager made decisions worsening this catastrophe??

The government is not neutral. When the UAW founders sat down in 1937 in Flint, the government aimed machine guns at the strikers, NOT at the GM offices.

Workers are right to be furious that any individual within the UAW was corrupt. Certainly in the corporate and political world, and in society as a whole, the amount of corruption is nauseating!

Some workers have said they expect better from their own organization, the union. Yes, this is correct and points to the life-and-death necessity for workers to aim to control our own unions, in much the same way that parents aim to control their own household.

Past generations fought and died to build the unions. We have an obligation to those who sacrificed before us NOT to give up on the union movement.