In a closed-door meeting at a Detroit casino two years ago, retiring UAW President Dennis Williams revealed his successor would be Gary Jones, an accountant then running the union's western region. The resounding reaction among the union brass in the room was: Gary who?
The UAW's former chief bean counter didn't strike anyone as a firebrand in the image of the union's legendary leader Walter Reuther. But the union was the target of a widening federal corruption probe, and the buttoned-down CPA was seen as the antidote to the UAW's growing image problem.
Now Jones, 62, appears to be in the crosshairs of the investigation, just as the UAW put 46,000 General Motors workers on the picket lines in the first nationwide strike against the automaker in 12 years. The mild-mannered finance man was nowhere to be seen when the union announced the strike on Sept. 15 in Detroit. The already low-profile Jones has been incognito since he was implicated — but not indicted — in a federal charging document this month that accompanied the arrest of UAW regional director Vance Pearson on conspiracy, money laundering, wire fraud and other charges.