Jones requested a paid leave of absence several days after a former aide became the 12th person charged by the U.S. Justice Department in connection with its corruption probe of the UAW and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Ashton became the 13th on Nov. 6. Ten of the 13 have pleaded guilty.
Jones' decision to go on paid leave earlier this month came two days after prosecutors accused several officials of embezzling $1.5 million in union funds and filing false expense reports to conceal the wrongdoing.
Gamble has announced several measures aimed at preventing future instances of corruption within the UAW's leadership and has said he is "confident" the union's remaining board members did not commit any wrongdoing.
"We are committed at the UAW to take all necessary steps, including continuing to implement ethics reforms and greater financial controls to prevent these type of charges from ever happening again," Gamble said in the Wednesday statement.
Jones would be the first UAW president to be replaced mid-term since 1970, when Walter Reuther died in a plane crash, according to labor experts.
The Detroit News first reported in September that Jones and former UAW President Dennis Williams were among the unnamed officials cited in the charges filed against Pearson. Prosecutors said Pearson and other UAW leaders misused hundreds of thousands of dollars on leisurely vacations in California, golf clubs, lavish meals, cigars and $440 bottles of champagne.
The feds raided the home of Jones, Williams and other officials in August.
The union's board met in September following Jones' reported implication but did not take any action. Pearson was placed on leave in October.
'UAW Official A'
Documents filed by prosecutors charging various defendants include numerous incriminating details about a person identified only as “UAW Official A,” which sources have told the News is Jones.
In one case, they said Official A told a co-conspirator “in or about” late 2017 that they needed to “halt the cash embezzlement portion of the conspiracy because of the ongoing federal criminal investigation of the United Auto Workers union and because of a new UAW position being taken by UAW Official A.” The UAW's administrative caucus in November 2017 selected Jones as their choice for president. He ascended to the role in June 2018.
Prosecutors also said UAW Official A was in possession of more than $32,000 in cash at his personal residence on August 28. Jones’ home was raided that day, along with the homes of other UAW officials, and media reports quoted witnesses saying investigators were seen counting cash in Jones’ garage.
Jones, a certified public accountant who lives in O’Fallon, Mo., near St. Louis, became a UAW member in 1975, when he was hired at a Ford Motor Co. glass plant in Oklahoma that has since closed. He joined the UAW International’s accounting department in 1990 and later became the union's chief accountant.
Jones was chosen as director of UAW Region 5, headquartered in Hazelwood, Mo., during a special election in October 2012 and was re-elected in June 2014.
After succeeding Dennis Williams as president, Jones typically shunned media, discontinuing the quarterly press conferences Williams instituted.
At the union's special bargaining convention in March, he read a short, prepared statement to reporters before leaving a spokesman to answer questions.
As the corruption probe intensified, he further withdrew from the public spotlight. The Labor Day parade in Detroit during a UAW contract year is typically marked by a speech from the president. Jones, however, marched only half of the route before turning away without speaking to media or his membership.
During this year's contract negotiations, he opted to send the union’s spokesman to meet with the media and did not appear at press conferences announcing the strike against General Motors and tentative agreements with GM and Ford. During the GM strike, he was not publicly spotted at the picket lines. When politicians and presidential candidates visited to take photos with workers, the union sent regional directors instead.
Michael Martinez contributed to this report.