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Today on Stateside, how the pandemic is delaying parole for people who are incarcerated in Michigan, even as prisons continue to have outbreaks of the virus. Also, two grocery store workers discuss waiting for a vaccine after a year of being on the front lines of the pandemic. Plus, why the United Auto Workers corruption scandal isn’t over yet.

judge's hammer on top of $100 bills
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Fiat Chrysler has agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to violate the federal Labor Management Relations Act, also known as the Taft-Hartley Act, and pay a $30 million fine, for bribing United Auto Workers officials.

The company has also agreed to the appointment of a compliance monitor for three years.

Another player in the sprawling UAW corruption scandal was sentenced to prison on Wednesday.

Edward Robinson is the former president of the UAW Midwest Community Action Program, based in Missouri. He pleaded guilty to helping orchestrate a “multi-faceted embezzlement scheme over several years in order to benefit the most senior leadership of the UAW and himself,” according to federal prosecutors.

Today on Stateside, after the Capitol insurrection on January 6, some immigrants are feeling unsettled by the kind of political instability they once fled. Plus, we’ll take a look at the role a UAW leader played in tying organized labor to a broader movement for civil rights. And, could COVID-19 sideline college basketball tournaments… again?

Martin Luther King Jr. and Walter Reuther at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Courtesy of Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs.

The United States now honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a day of remembrance each January. However, while he was alive, his public disapproval ratings were as high as 75%. Many Americans disliked him for a variety of his stances, from expanding civil rights protections to opposing the Vietnam War. Still, King found supporters of his work throughout the nation, among them Walter Reuther, the president of the United Auto Workers union.

UAW
UAW

Five years after the FBI began investigating corruption in the leadership ranks of the United Auto Workers union, the U.S. Justice Department and the union have agreed to a consent order that places the union under the oversight of an independent monitor.

The investigation began with charges against a former Fiat Chrysler official, and spread from there, ending with two former UAW presidents, Gary Jones and Dennis Williams, pleading guilty to embezzlement, among other crimes.

Former UAW VP Ashton sentenced to 30 months for corruption

Nov 17, 2020
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DETROIT (AP) - A former union vice president who took a $250,000 kickback for a watch contract has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison. It's the latest punishment in what the government calls "systemic" corruption at the highest ranks of the United Auto Workers.

Two auto workers on an assembly line
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Today on Stateside, only eight days remain until Election Day. We take a look at the race for the 3rd congressional district currently held by U.S. Representative Justin Amash (L-MI 3). And what auto workers are listening for from presidential candidates.  Also, a new country album offers a wistful twang for these trying times.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Former United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams pleaded guilty to conspiring to embezzle union funds during a federal court hearing Wednesday.

As part of a plea deal, Williams will likely be sentenced to no more than two years in federal prison. He’ll be sentenced in January. 

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne and UAW President Dennis Williams
UAW

The U.S. Department of Justice has charged former United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams with conspiracy to embezzle union funds.

United Auto Workers

A former UAW president faces prison time after pleading guilty Wednesday to charges including embezzlement, racketeering and tax evasion.

When he’s sentenced in October, Gary Jones could get up to five years on each of two counts and fined a quarter million dollars, though the sentence will likely be less, since Jones has agreed to cooperate with a federal investigation into the union.

Gary Jones stands at a UAW podium
United Auto Workers

Former United Autoworkers President Gary Jones was arraigned Thursday in U.S. District Court in Detroit on charges arising from a federal investigation into corruption in the union.

The arraignment hearing was conducted by video conferencing since federal district courthouses are closed on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gary Jones stands at a UAW podium
United Auto Workers

Something happened this week that we’ve known was coming for awhile.

Gary Jones stands at a UAW podium
United Auto Workers

Federal prosecutors have charged Gary Jones, the former President of the United Auto Workers, with three felonies, including embezzlement.

Jones is the highest-ranking official charged so far in an FBI investigation of corruption in the union. 

UAW
UAW

Another former UAW official has been sentenced to federal prison for his role in the ongoing corruption investigation of the union.

A judge sentenced Michael Grimes to 28 months in prison. That’s longer than what prosecutors requested.

UAW

Former United Auto Workers President Owen Bieber has died.  

Bieber led the UAW through a recession, industry downsizing and expanding global competition.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Months after the strike at General Motors ended, thousands of workers are being required to work long hours to catch up on a parts backlog.

At least six GM plants – including five in Michigan – are on so-called “emergency status.”

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The birthplace of the modern American labor movement is facing a reckoning.

Thank a growing cadre of United Auto Workers leaders, including two of the past three presidents.

UAW ratifies new four-year contract with Fiat Chrysler

Dec 11, 2019
UAW
UAW

Unionized workers at Fiat Chrysler have voted overwhelmingly to approve a new four-year contract with the company.

The ratification means the United Auto Workers union has settled with all three Detroit automakers.

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U.S. Library of Congress

Today on Stateside, an old industrial site contaminated with uranium since the World War II has partially collapsed into the Detroit River. Plus, a group of West Michigan musicians have brought old Michigan folk songs once sung by sailors and lumberjacks back to life.

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The United Auto Workers announced some internal changes on Monday in response to a federal investigation into the union’s finances.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The federal crackdown on union corruption has claimed more than 10 convictions so far. And it’s resulted in the resignation of United Auto Workers President Gary Jones.

It also produced a stunner: General Motors is using a racketeering lawsuit … the stuff of mafia fighters … to charge rival Fiat Chrysler with scheming to weaken GM over the past decade. And they’re using evidence in the UAW corruption case to do it.

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne and UAW President Dennis Williams
UAW

General Motors has filed an unprecedented federal racketeering lawsuit against its crosstown Detroit rival, Fiat Chrysler.

uaw strike signs laying on the ground
Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio

General Motors is suing Fiat Chrysler, alleging that its crosstown rival got an unfair business advantage by bribing officials of the United Auto Workers union.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit, alleges that FCA was involved in racketeering by paying millions in bribes to get concessions and gain advantages in three labor agreements with the union.

Assorted liquor bottles on a shelf.
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Today on Stateside, UAW rank and file members watch and worry as an ongoing federal corruption probe casts doubt over top leadership. Plus, we hear about the challenges of ensuring clean drinking water in America. 

The UAW has been striking since September 16.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It’s a challenging time, to say the least, for the United Auto Workers Union. The UAW’s president is on paid leave amidst a widening federal corruption probe, which has resulted in 13 charges and 10 guilty pleas.

Acting president Rory Gamble has pledged to “clean up” the UAW, but how do its rank and file members feel about their union’s future?

UAW

United Auto Workers Acting President Rory Gamble has announced the implementation of "widespread ethics reforms." The move comes in the midst of a widening FBI investigation that has uncovered a pattern of corruption among union leaders.

In a statement, Gamble says, "As the acting president, I'm committed to putting in place the right mechanisms to safeguard our union, regaining the trust of our members, and ensuring the misconduct that has recently come to light will never happen again.

Prison bars
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Today on Stateside, the UAW’s International Executive Board meets to consider reforms in the face of the growing federal corruption probe into the union. Plus, as our series “Life on the Inside” continues, we’ll look at what it’s like to parent while you’re in prison.

A retired United Auto Workers vice president has become the highest-ranking union official yet charged in a federal corruption investigation.

Joe Ashton was the union’s representative on the board of General Motors, and also sat on the board of the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources, a joint worker training center. He’s charged with fraud and money laundering.

UAW workers went on strike in Flint Monday.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The  federal corruption probe into the UAW marches on.

On Wednesday, retired union vice president Joe Ashton became the 13th and highest-ranking person to be charged in the investigation. Union president Gary Jones has taken a leave of absence.

The union's vice president Rory Gamble, who recently negotiated the contract agreement with Ford, is now the UAW's acting president.

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