The UAW International executive board has elected Terry Dittes, a regional director on the East Coast, to be the union's newest vice president.
Dittes, 58, will oversee the UAW's Fiat Chrysler department, which is embroiled in a federal corruption probe involving millions of dollars from a joint training center allegedly being siphoned by union and company officials.
Dittes replaces Norwood Jewell, who retired effective Dec. 31 -- about six months before the end of his first four-year term in office.
Dittes, who joined the union in 1978, was selected by union leaders in November as part of a slate of new candidates to stand for election in June at the UAW Constitutional Convention. He will serve the rest of Jewell's term until then.
Jewell, 60, has not been publicly named or charged in the federal investigation, but The Detroit News in August reported he received a $2,180 shotgun bought with union training center funds as a birthday present.
The UAW has said Jewell paid for the gun after finding out it was bought with the training funds.
Feds say Jewell's predecessor, the late General Holiefield, was a key figure in the alleged illegal activities along with FCA's former top negotiator, Alphons Iacobelli. The case has led to criminal charges against four people, including Iacobelli and Holiefield's widow, Monica Morgan.
The federal investigation initially focused on the FCA-UAW training center but has since widened to similar training centers at Ford Motor Co. and General Motors, which are all funded by the automakers as part of the union's collective bargaining agreements.
UAW President Dennis Williams last month said the union will survive this test, and he expects little backlash from members during the union's Constitutional Convention, when Gary Jones, a UAW regional director and certified public accountant, is slated to succeed Williams.
"The UAW has weathered many storms over the years, been through bad economic times, long strikes, relentless and vicious organizing drives," Williams said. "We have also at times withstood investigations that have tested our good will."
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