That Was Fast: UAW President Shawn Fain Leads This Edition Of Sticky Fingers

by | Jun 13, 2024 | Corruption, CWA, IAM, IBT, Labor Relations Ink, Labor Relations Insight, SEIU, Shawn Fain, Union Leaders, Union Leaders, Union Research, Unions, USSW

There is never a shortage of bad actors engaging in union corruption and misconduct, and since Shawn Fain is everywhere, it only makes sense that he’s now being investigated for misconduct, too.

Yes, already! The overachieving Fain has only been on the job for about a year after promising to “reform” the union’s legacy of corruption. That seemed like a lofty venture, given that Fain won during the union’s first direct officer election, which turned out to be a “travesty of democracy” full of shady tactics, including voter suppression. Allegedly, he’s still not exactly on the straight and narrow.

What happened? Fain’s bravado recently hit a wall when the union lost an election among Alabama Mercedes workers. This served as a reality check, and in a sudden move, Fain took over oversight responsibilities for the UAW’s Stellantis Department while removing fellow “reformer” VP Rich Boyer from that part of his job. At first, this felt like damage control related to the failed election, given that Stellantis workers have been disappointed by layoffs, which could have influenced Mercedes workers while voting.

This week, however, Fain came under investigation by UAW Watchdog Neil Barofsky, who was federally tasked in 2021 with watching for corruption. The UAW head cheerleader has been accused of retaliating against his fellow union officers including Secretary-Treasurer Margaret Mock, who accused Fain of removing her from responsibilities without explanation. Yet the real kicker comes from the allegations received by Barofsky against Fain, who allegedly booted Boyer from Stellantis oversight because he “refused to engage in acts of financial misconduct to benefit others.” Yikes.

Let’s continue with a roundup of recent sticky fingers cases:

  • Twelve unions –including Communication Workers of America (CWA), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Machinists (IAM), Teamsters, and United Steelworkers (USSW) – are being probed for fraud and corruption, with accusations coming from Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx. The congresswoman, who has recently been sending other high-profile letters to union presidents, seeks answers on allegations that union officers are guilty of embezzlement and accepting bribes.
  • SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana has been called out by members who believe that their union representation isn’t worth the dues that they are paying. A report revealed that this local’s officers splashed out enormous amounts of money, including $30,000 in pizza from a single restaurant in 2023, along with $1.1 million on flights, car rentals, catering, and hotels for “special events” without further explanation. Another $800,000 appears to have gone missing.
  • The Chicago Teachers Union spent much of 2023 becoming embroiled in scandals, including accusations that the union swept sexual abuse allegations under the rug.
  • The Boilermaker’s ex-chief-of-staff, Tyler Brown, pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy after he spent union members’ dues on ghost jobs for family members. Brown could receive two decades behind bars for misappropriating millions of dollars in dues.

The days when union corruption flourished are certainly not over. As SEIU HCII members and other employees impacted here are beginning to realize, certain union officers are not altruistically taking their dues money for innocent purposes.

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