American auto workers deserve better than the senior leadership of the United Auto Workers, several of whom have been the subject of a years-long corruption probe that has led to arrests and prison time. Those indictments keep racking up even as members negotiate for new union contracts. But white-collar crime doesn’t usually lead to raids at gunpoint until, according to The Detroit News, it does.
Dennis Williams was the president of the UAW from 2014 to 2018. He was not arrested during a raid at his home in Corona, California, late last month, but he was still seemingly prepared for it. He was smoking a cigar outside his home as agents approached. That’s when guns came out, the News reports:
The sources, who are not authorized to speak publicly, describe a dramatic behind-the-scenes moment in a series of raids carried out by the FBI, the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department at six locations in four states, including the home of UAW President Gary Jones in Canton Township.
It is unclear what prompted agents to aim their weapons at the 66-year-old retired UAW president outside his home in Corona, 47 miles east of Los Angeles. But investigators might have feared for their safety during a raid linked to a white-collar criminal investigation.
“People involved in a white-collar criminal investigation can be just as violent as a drug dealer or gang banger or a murderer if they see their life going downhill,” said Andrew Arena, former special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit field office. “If the guy is aggressive, agents may ramp it up.”
Spokeswomen for the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment.
Williams has not been charged with a crime, nor was he arrested during the raid. But he has been the subject of investigation by federal agents in a corruption probe centered on the spending of UAW money on luxuries for UAW officials.
Those officials allegedly spent union money on golf, travel, entertainment, homes, or basically anything a classless American dude thinks of as cool. Williams’ taste in things is about the same.
Williams and his wife installed a large outdoor kitchen with a barbecue and pizza oven and hosted parties, including one last weekend featuring pink flamingo decorations, a neighbor who did not want to be named told The News.
Williams mentioned the Black Lake home the union built for him — with nonunion labor — at the UAW retreat and talked about his boats, the neighbor said.
Now may be a good time to remind you that UAW workers on strike trying to negotiate better pay and job security get $250 a week for their trouble.
The August 28 raids in four states included the Detroit home of UAW President Gary Jones, who has been lying low as UAW workers strike against GM. Jones had golf clubs seized in the raid, and apparently is somewhat of a joke among the rank-and-file.
Jones, who vowed as president to win back the trust of the rank-and-file with a clean-slate agenda, instead stands accused of using union members’ dues to finance a “lavish lifestyle” that included long stays in luxury lodgings, golf outings and steak dinners with champagne and cigars, according to the government. In a raid of his suburban Detroit home, federal investigators seized golf clubs and $30,000 in cash.
“If you ask anybody in my plant, ‘What do you think of UAW President Gary Jones?’ they’d start laughing and they’d say, ‘He’s a thief, he’s a criminal, he’s a crook,’” said Brian Pannebecker, a forklift driver at Ford Motor Co.’s axle plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan. “They don’t know him here in Detroit, other than to know that he’s held a lot of lavish conferences out in Palm Springs.”
I would say that the UAW leadership might learn from all this, but, these days, I’m not that optimistic. The corruption probe has been unfolding in the context of the strike, but it’s hard to know how the two will affect each other. The answer, probably, is not all that much, because the power of 48,000 people walking off the job is greater than some bozos on top acting up.
It’s mainly an embarrassment for the leaders of union that should be at the forefront of America’s labor movement.