The United Auto Workers consistently prove that the former heavyweight union can’t (and won’t) shed its long-running streak of corruption. Even the most ardent federal watchdog can’t tame the ongoing scandal, given that leaders seem to be teaching a (dubious) masterclass in evading supervision. Neil Barofsky previously revealed his frustration at the union’s refusal to cooperate, and this month’s 38th UAW constitutional convention wasn’t guaranteed to fix anything.
Case in point: An ex-UAW local Secretary/Treasurer, Timothy Edmunds, has been handed a nearly five-year sentence following convictions for fraud, including embezzling over $2 million in union dues. His deeply rooted money laundering scheme feeds the union’s legacy of shady dealings, which must frustrate the UAW’s members, who can’t be pleased with what ended up happening at the convention.
Here are some of the more notable developments at the embarrassing event:
- UAW delegates kicked off the event by boosting leader salaries while declining to codify the “equal pay for equal work” amendment, which members hoped would help them during 2023 negotiations with Detroit’s Big Three automakers. The salary-raise percentages for leaders were not as high as in 2018, but leaders still prioritized their own interests over those they claim to represent.
- The UAW’s strike-happy ways won’t help workers on the picket lines. That’s because the delegates first approved a strike-pay increase to $500 (up from $400) per week, but as the convention wound down, union bureaucrats took a “just kidding” stance and rescinded the increase. A sneaky twist: many delegates had already left the event, giving members no recourse for the reversal.
- Current UAW President Ray Curry’s customary convention speech somehow disappeared from the agenda with no explanation forthcoming (other than the obvious disaster on his hands). Curry actually intended to make the speech at three separate points, only to delay again until further notice.
- Curry will have to hustle if he hopes to give more speeches as president. He is dealing with dozens of contenders for the top leadership spot. The convention included speeches from nominees, all of whom want to unseat Curry and somehow repair the union’s legacy amid auto plant losses and steadily declining membership, which fell 6% in 2021.
The convention arrives on the heels of the union’s referendum to directly elect their officers this fall, so Curry’s tenure at the troubled union could soon end. His successor will have plenty of work ahead to affect change.
In the meantime, the UAW is maneuvering for the upcoming seven U.S. battery plants to become organized workplaces. In fact, the very future of the UAW rests upon whether or not they’ll succeed at unionizing these plants. A failure to do so could drive their membership down to unsustainable levels.