UAW President Gary Jones may be a marked man among his own union leadership, with some expressing doubts that Ford and Fiat Chrysler will come to the table with a union led by Jones, under federal investigation for corruption.
In a meeting last Friday of the UAW's governing International Executive Board, the heads of the union's Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV bargaining committees questioned whether their teams would bargain with their respective companies if Jones remained president, four sources with knowledge of the situation told The Detroit News.
The brewing mutiny — delivered by Vice President Rory Gamble and Vice President Cindy Estrada, heads of the UAW's Ford and FCA departments, respectively — suggests a fissure is appearing in the union's 14-member governing board. One side believes the implication of Jones in a union corruption investigation makes him a liability in bargaining, undercuts his ability to lead and exposes the union to potential federal oversight.
A UAW spokesman, Brian Rothenberg, said Wednesday he "checked with the Ford negotiating team and the FCA negotiating team" and it's "not true" that they would not bargain with their respective automakers if Jones remains president. He did not elaborate.
The UAW strike against General Motors began Sunday night as workers walked off the job at plants all over the country. So far it is limited to that company.
Jones is one target of a federal investigation into the improper spending of union dues on luxurious perks for top union officials. The probe has tarnished the reputation of the union, which had been known for clean operation. Howes called the mutiny threat "remarkable for an 84-year-old institution that prizes stability and vests enormous power in its president."