UAW Probe Update: Former Assistant to Union Veep Pleads Guilty
The UAW news is pouring in on two fronts these days. For one, there’s the looming bargaining talks between the United Autoworkers Union and Detroit Three automakers, with General Motors leading the way. Then there’s the ongoing federal investigation into bribery and kickbacks at the highest levels of the UAW.
Just as GM is the initial focus of the contract negotiations, the union department tasked with dealing with the automaker is also the main focus of the FBI probe. On Wednesday, the most recently indicted former UAW official pleaded guilty to wire fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering. For his crimes, Mike Grimes, a former bargaining team member and administrative assistant to UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada who left the union in 2018, will have to forfeit $1.5 million in bribes.
As reported by The Detroit News, Grimes pleaded guilty to a federal judge in an Ann Arbor courtroom today, making him the first ex-UAW official connected to the GM file to earn a conviction. Eight other current or former UAW officials linked to Fiat Chrysler have also been convicted.
Grimes’ sentencing will be carried out in January. While the crimes come with a potential 30-year sentence, the feds are looking at a term of 46 to 57 months. It’s possible Grimes used his knowledge of the affair to name names to investigators, thus reducing his sentence. Last month, the same newspaper reported the identities of two alleged co-conspirators in the scheme to draw bribes and kickbacks from UAW vendors. Grimes was accused of pocketing nearly $2 million from vendors, including one tasked with making 58,000 watches that never made it to unionized workers.
Some of the money reportedly went towards the purchase of a $730,000 home in Fort Myers, Florida — Grimes’ hometown — and the acquisition of a decidedly non-GM Jeep Wrangler. These purchases will not remain in Grimes’ possession.
In a statement, the UAW called Grimes’ actions “absolutely disgraceful” and detailed its recently overhauled vendor purchasing process.
“Our Union will not be distracted from fighting for our members and negotiating strong labor agreements with General Motors, Ford and FCA,” the UAW stated.
[Image: General Motors]