Jan 4, 2021
The UAW and the federal government announced a consent agreement after years of investigations and accusations of corruption against top union leaders. What does this settlement mean?
First of all, the agreement is an admission by the government that, despite all the plea deals it made with those officials who were charged, it couldn’t find the widespread corruption in the UAW that the Feds and parts of the media had alleged for the past several years. The government couldn’t impose what it wanted.
The agreement imposes outside monitors to watch the financial dealings of the UAW, similar to what the current UAW leaders had already done themselves. But the federal government had been pushing for a racketeering charge and complete takeover of the UAW, like they did to the Teamsters years ago. Why did the government agree to something much less? Maybe because the Trump‑appointed U.S. Attorney knew he would soon be out of office and wanted to save face.
Yes, there were some UAW leaders who used their positions to line their own pockets or take privileges. But the vast majority of union leaders were not part of this. But still, the UAW has been weakened. A lot of union leaders had their names dragged through the mud. And, in the future, if any UAW leaders organize a big fight against the companies, these outside monitors are in a position to go after them.
A lot of UAW workers were rightfully angry at those union leaders who were corrupt. But we shouldn’t ever believe that the government came in to help us. The government is always on the side of the bosses. Just remember how the government and some media ramped up their attack on the UAW right at the time the union called a strike against GM in 2019.
There are problems with our top union leadership. But the main problem is not corruption. The problem is that the leadership has had a policy of partnership with the companies, a policy that has led us down a path of concessions. That policy needs to change. But it will be up to the UAW members to change that policy and elect leaders who are ready to lead a fight against the companies.