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UAW president Shawn Fain faces investigation by federal court monitor

1 week ago 24

Shawn Fain, the president of the United Auto Workers, is under investigation by a federal court monitor for alleged retaliation against two other union leaders, according to a report filed Monday in a district court in Michigan.

The court-appointed monitor, Neil Barofsky, also accused the autoworkers’ union in the report of “non-cooperation” with an investigation opened in February into the matter, including not fully handing over requested documents.

Fain said Monday evening in a statement to The Washington Post that the union encourages the monitor “to investigate whatever claims are brought to their office, because we know what they’ll find: a UAW leadership committed to serving the membership, and running a democratic union.”

Fain, the union’s first democratically elected president, has brought the UAW into the national spotlight over the past year for its daring agenda to rebuild the U.S. labor movement and reshape the union’s image, tarnished by past corruption scandals.

As part of a 2021 consent decree, Barofsky was appointed as a federal monitor for the union, following Justice Department investigations into corruption that resulted in the convictions of past union leaders. Fain was elected in the aftermath of those probes.

Barofsky’s investigation concerns allegations from UAW’s secretary-treasurer Margaret Mock that she faced retaliation for “her refusal or reluctance to authorize certain expenditures of funds” for Fain’s office. Barofsky told the court that he is also investigating Mock’s actions.

The union’s executive international board voted in February to strip Mock of all of her field assignments in response to allegations that she “had engaged in misconduct while carrying out her financial oversight responsibilities,” according to the report.

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Mock did not immediately respond to attempts to contact her.

The report also said that Barofsky has opened a probe into allegations by a vice president who has been overseeing the union matters with Jeep-maker Stellantis. He alleged the UAW had stripped him of his assignment in retaliation for “refusing to engage in acts of financial misconduct to benefit others.”

Fain at the time issued a memo explaining that this action was taken because of the vice president’s “dereliction of duty” with regards to union bargaining-related issues, according to court documents.

“Taking our union in a new direction means sometimes you have to rock the boat, and that upsets some people who want to keep the status quo, but our membership expects better and deserves better than the old business as usual,” Fain said in his Monday evening statement.

Last fall, after striking against General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, the union secured record wage gains and other concessions from the Detroit automakers. Then in April, workers voted join the UAW at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.; it was the first auto plant in the South to hold a successful union vote since the 1940s. A subsequent election at a Mercedes plant in Vance, Ala., ended in defeat last month, though the union is challenging the result with the National Labor Relations Board.

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