UAW shifts VP Estrada to FCA from GM department
DETROIT -- UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada is moving over to steer bargaining at the union's Fiat Chrysler department from the GM department, new UAW President Gary Jones said Thursday.
Vice President Terry Dittes, who has overseen the union's FCA department since January, was appointed head of the UAW's GM department.
Estrada, who has overseen bargaining at GM since 2014, also will retain her role presiding over the union's women's department. This will be her third term as a UAW vice president.
UAW delegates elected new UAW officers, including Jones, 60, a UAW regional director and certified public accountant, on Wednesday, and the new officers were assigned their roles on Thursday.
Ray Curry, director of UAW Region 8, was elected secretary-treasurer and Rory Gamble, director of Region 1A, was named vice president in charge of the Ford department.
Estrada, Dittes and Gamble will oversee bargaining when the union renegotiates national labor contracts covering wages and benefits with the Detroit 3 next year.
In addition to enhanced labor contracts for thousands of workers at GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, the union also is vowing to oppose the spread of right-to-work laws and organize workers at foreign-owned vehicle assembly plants across the South, a goal that has long eluded the UAW.
The changes in UAW leadership come amid a federal probe of the union's joint training center operated with Fiat Chrysler. Federal investigators say FCA employees and executives paid UAW representatives millions to influence union business, including labor negotiations. Prosecutors say several UAW and FCA officials siphoned money through the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center, and used false charitable donations and training center credit cards to pay for nonbusiness items.
The Detroit News reported in November that federal officials were "interested" in both Estrada and retired UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, Estrada's predecessor at the GM department, who was also appointed to GM's board in 2014 and resigned in December 2017.
In making changes to the union's top bargaining assignments, Jones called Estrada "well-rounded and suited for the job."
"We are cooperating with the investigation and I'm not going into much further detail than that," Jones, who succeeded Dennis Williams, 65, as UAW president, said twice during the conference, which followed the union's 37th Constitutional Convention held this week in Detroit.
Seven people have been charged in the corruption probe thus far. Of those, six have pleaded guilty -- among them a former FCA labor relations chief and other figures at the automaker and the union .
Though the investigation started with the UAW-Chrysler training center, it has since expanded to training operations at Ford Motor Co. and General Motors.
Jones thanked his successors for "leaving the union in good financial shape and structural shape."
He also expressed displeasure with a report in The Detroit News on Wednesday that federal investigators believe FCA and the UAW were involved in a conspiracy dating back three UAW presidential terms.
"We investigated, cooperated and took strong action from the moment we learned these issues from the government," Jones said. "Specific individuals -- not institutions like the UAW -- are responsible for the betrayals of trust identified by the government."
Jones said the timing of the News report, coming the day of the UAW elections, based on a document that's been public for some time, "kind of makes you scratch your head why they put it out."
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