Michigan Radio: Marick Masters on UAW raids

The FBI on Wednesday upped its investigation into alleged corruption within the United Auto Workers with some dramatic raids on high-profile targets. The raids come as the UAW and all three Detroit automakers are in the midst of ongoing negotiations for a new, four-year contract. The union says the raids were unnecessary as it has always cooperated with government investigators in the corruption probe, and that the resulting “media leaks, false assumptions, and political grandstanding” only serve to benefit “profit-laden automakers.” Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University, says the timing may be significant in another way: coming on the heels of money laundering and wire fraud charges against former GM UAW administrator Michael Grimes, which also implicate two other unnamed UAW officials, it may signal the defendants in that case “might have made revelations to the prosecutors, and that that might have been sufficient for them to get a warrant to conduct this kind of raid.” Masters agrees that this “casts a cloud” over UAW leadership at a critical time, and “perhaps raises doubts among the membership and the rank and file about the integrity of the leadership.” He suggests the UAW convene its executive board to discuss the possibility of that leadership temporarily stepping down, as well as possibly bringing in an independent review board to root out potential corruption and take corrective measures. UAW members “have to be supremely confident in the integrity and reliability of the leadership,” Masters said. “This is a delicate situation, and why I think it’s absolutely necessary they take some bold steps to at least assure the membership that they’re doing everything they possibly can to get out ahead of this story, make a full disclosure, and invite the kind of microscopic public scrutiny which is necessary.”

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