United Auto Workers President Gary Jones announced on Wednesday that he’s stepping down as president and retiring from the UAW.
That comes just as the union announced it was moving to expel Jones and another top UAW official, Region 5 Director Vance Pearson.
The UAW’s International Executive Board unanimously voted to proceed with what are called Article 30 charges under the union’s constitution against Jones and Pearson. That would have kickstarted a trial-like process to remove the two men from the union.
Both men have been implicated in an alleged corruption scheme that involves misusing union funds for personal expenses, then covering it up with falsified expense reports.
Both Jones and Pearson had already taken leaves of absence from the union. Pearson already faces federal charges, while Jones has not yet been charged.
Jones' attorney, Bruce Maffeo, said in a statement that Jones made the decision to resign and retire from the UAW before learning of the union’s move.
The statement reads, in part: “Gary made the decision to retire before learning of the charges filed earlier today and did so in order to allow the union to focus on its core mission to improve the lives of its members and families. Gary appreciates the support provided to him by his family and friends and offered the following quote: “While I don’t know what my lord and Savior Jesus Christ has in store for me, I will look to him for guidance and support in the days and moths [sic] to come.”
In a statement from the UAW, Acting President Rory Gamble, who replaced Jones after he stepped aside, said: “This is a somber day, but our UAW Constitution has provided the necessary tools to deal with these charges. We are committed at the UAW to take all necessary steps including continuing to implement ethics reforms and greater financial controls to prevent these type of charges from ever happening again.”
Thirteen people have been charged so far in multiple corruption scandals involving UAW and Fiat-Chrysler officials. And just this week, General Motors sued fellow Detroit automaker FCA, alleging that its crosstown rival got an unfair business advantage by bribing UAW officials. Fiat Chrysler says the lawsuit is "meritless."