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Ex-UAW president Gary Jones resigns from union in 'unprecedented' move

Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

DETROIT -- Gary Jones is out.

The disgraced former UAW president quit his affiliation with the union brothers and sisters he took an oath to represent with honor and dignity. He has been a member of the union since 1975.

"Jones had faced internal UAW Article 30 charges that would have removed him from office and from his membership," a statement, released at 10:30 a.m. Friday by spokesman Brian Rothenberg, said. "He had previously resigned his office as president."

Labor union observers say the action signals things are expected to go from really bad to worse for the man whose house was raided by FBI and IRS agents after he was implicated in a massive corruption scheme.

"All we can say with certainty is resigning from the union is unprecedented. It is deeply troubling with everything that's been going on related to corruption," said labor analyst Harley Shaiken, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley who has closely monitored the UAW for decades.

On Nov. 26, the union official who succeeded Jones as head of a 17-state UAW region stretching from Missouri to California appeared in a federal courtroom in the criminal case in Detroit. Vance Pearson is accused of embezzling union money, mail and wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. Federal prosecutors say he and other ex-union officials, including Jones, stole more than $1.5 million.

Officials accused Pearson and Jones and others of spending more than $100,000 on golf clothing, shirts, hats and swag from pro shops, and they say $60,000 was embezzled for cigars and related paraphernalia.

"Vance Pearson was close with Gary Jones," Shaiken said. "Resigning from the union preemptively? Not a positive sign. The whole corruption issue has been disturbing and damaging for the union. This is very much at odds with its ideals and its history."

 

UAW sources explained that an "Article 30" trial would have removed Jones from office and membership; by resigning both he avoids a trial.

Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University who specializes in labor issues, said Friday Jones is "clearly disengaging as far as he possibly can from the UAW. I think it means he is trying to avoid any possible penalties the union might impose on him. For example, they might try to deny him his union pension. They may ask for certain kinds of restitution if he took funds from the union treasury."

Jones hasn't been charged with a crime. He requested and was granted a leave of absence Nov. 2 while the union negotiated its four-year contracts with General Motors, Ford and Fiat-Chrysler. The UAW represents about 150,000 auto workers and an active membership of about 400,000 nationally.

Jones, a certified accountant, started at the Ford plant in Broken Arrow, Okla. He served as the union's top non-elected finance person for nearly a decade.

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