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Watchdog investigates UAW President Shawn Fain and accuses the union of lack of cooperation

NEW YORK (AP) – United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain is under investigation by a court-appointed watchdog that is working to crack down on corruption in the union in the wake of his a stunning scandal of bribery and embezzlement A few years ago.

Monitor Neil Barofsky, in his ninth report to Judge David M. Lawson on Monday, revealed that he was investigating Fain – as well as other senior UAW officials. Barofsky also accused the union of a “recent failure” to cooperate with its monitoring duties, which he said began to deteriorate earlier this year after an investigation into them began.

The report, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit, describes some clashes that have occurred within the UAW’s International Executive Board in recent months, particularly between Fain and Secretary-Treasurer Margaret Mock.

As noted in the report, back in February the board passed a motion to support Fain, who withdrew all field assignments assigned to Mock that “were not subject to the constitutional requirement to be under her purview” and made other policy changes amid allegations that she had engaged in improper conduct. conduct during financial supervision duties.

In response, Mock stated that the allegations were false and alleged that the removal of her power was in retaliation for her “refusal or unwillingness” to agree to certain expenses that had benefited or requested those in President Fain’s office – we read further in the report.

The Monitor soon began investigating Fain, Mock and the conflicting claims. Recently, as noted in the report, the monitor expanded its investigation to include additional allegations of retaliation by Fain against one of the union’s vice presidents, and in an unrelated investigation, the monitor also began investigating a regional director after receiving allegations of potential embezzlement.

“It is important to emphasize at this stage that allegations are just allegations,” Barofsky maintained, noting that Monday’s report should not be interpreted as drawing any conclusions about possible allegations.

Still, he later added, having the resources necessary to complete the investigation is critical, and the UAW allegedly failed to cooperate fully.

As the investigation began to gain momentum, the observer says there was a change in the UAW’s cooperation with his work. While the union made workers and senior management available for interviews, it failed to provide the appropriate documents in a timely manner, Barofsky alleges – claiming that only some of the requested documents were made available after months of attempts, most of which were submitted last week.

“The Observer assesses that the Union’s delay in providing relevant documents hampers and impairs its access to information needed for its investigative work,” Barosky’s report on Monday said, later noting that if it was not resolved in the coming weeks, it may be necessary to be court intervention.

In a UAW statement sent on Fain’s behalf to the Associated Press, the president said that “taking a new direction for our union means that sometimes you have to change your mind, and that upsets some people who want to maintain the status quo, but our membership expects and deserves better.” something better than your current business.”

“We encourage the Monitor to investigate any claims brought to his office because we know what they will find: UAW leadership committed to serving members and leading a democratic union,” he added.

Fain was president of the UAW from spring 2023. In addition to promising to take a more confrontational stance in negotiations with large car manufacturers, he promised to clean up the union once elected.

The UAW did not immediately provide any statements on Mock’s behalf on Tuesday. According to Barofsky’s Monday report, the secretary-treasurer “also disavowed the Union’s current position as uncooperative and inconsistent with her own direction to Union employees to cooperate fully.”

Barofsky was appointed in May 2021 as part of a settlement that avoided a government takeover of the union in the wake of a wide-ranging bribery and embezzlement scandal. Eleven union officials and the deceased official’s spouse have pleaded guilty in a corruption investigation, including two former presidents who were sentenced to prison. The first criminal charges in the investigation were made in 2017.

This is not the first time the union has been accused of failing to cooperate with a court-appointed monitor. In Barofsky’s third report in July 2022, he accused the union of withholding information previous allegations of misconduct.