Last Friday, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider told the Detroit Free Press that a federal government takeover of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union was “on the table,” pending the conclusion of continued investigations into UAW leadership corruption.
Mike Herron, UAW Chairman for the Spring Hill General Motors plant, told the Home Page on Wednesday that while he didn’t know the likelihood of a government takeover, he believed there to be a ‘double standard’ when it comes to how the federal government deals with corruption in unions compared to corruption in the corporate business world.
“I just think that there's definitely a double set of standards,” Herron said. “I for one believe that wrong-doing is wrong-doing - it doesn't matter whether you're on the company side or the union side, it should be dealt with accordingly. If you're guilty and you break the law, then you ought to be held accountable for that - it should not be unique to either the union or management.”
Corruption in UAW leadership
In 2017, federal investigators revealed that millions of dollars meant for training workers was instead spent by a select few UAW leaders on lavish items such as sports cars, homes and air travel. As of this year, 13 people have been indicted as part of an ongoing federal investigation into UAW leadership corruption, including former UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell, who was sentenced to 15 months in prison under a charge of conspiracy.
“A few bad actors”
Herron was quick to condemn the actions of UAW leadership involved in corruption, but stressed that “a few bad actors” should not represent the entirety of the UAW and its members - members, Herron said, that he believes “help the community, help people,” and are “upstanding citizens.”
“You got to separate the institution and the work that we do from a few bad actors that have - individually - opted to go ahead and do something that they shouldn't have done,” Herron said. “They get all the airplay; they get the headlines, and it's their picture in the news, but the people that are out there building ramps for the elderly, or that are contributing to soup kitchens... that doesn't steal the headlines. I think it's really important that no matter what, [we] eliminate quickly with a scalpel the people that are not doing right and that aren't representing our values.”
Speaking about the Spring Hill plant, Herron was quick to praise its leadership in what he called an “impeccably run” chapter of the UAW.
“Our union here in Spring Hill is impeccably run - every dollar of the union members' money is accounted for, and I know that the leadership here has taken great pride in making sure that there's nothing but a class A organization here in Spring Hill,” Herron said. “I think that it's important to note that we've reached out and helped the community, we've tried to be upstanding citizens here in this area, we've been contributors to every benevolent organization and every needy child that has come and asked. That's our DNA, that's what we do - we help the community, we help people, and we represent our workforce here.”