Since succeeding Gary Jones as the UAW’s president in November 2019, Rory Gamble consistently has said his mission was to save the scandal-plagued union. A settlement with federal prosecutors announced last week does just that while avoiding a government takeover. Gamble, 64, spoke with Staff Reporter Michael Martinez. Here are edited excerpts.
Q: What was the situation like when you first took over?
A: The revelations to me when I took office — it was very shocking. I spent my first week getting brought up to speed by the attorneys. I made the decision that week that we had to make some very hard decisions to save our union.
Why was it important to save the union and avoid a government takeover?
The union has meant so much to so many working families. Our membership did not deserve the things perpetuated on them by a small group of individuals. We have thousands of reps across the country that go to work every day and do their jobs and obey their oaths of office.
My dad was a union rep. I went to my first meeting when I was 7 years old, and I was struck by the whole concept. There were about 3,000 people working there at the time and about 40 women. I was in this big hall with all these men with coveralls on and grimy faces, and when the meeting was called to order, the person calling it to order was an African American woman named Francis Roberts. She was elected chairperson of that union. I was overwhelmed; that blew me away. I went home and told my mom about it.