UAW leadership says it is open to meeting with federal investigators after the U.S. attorney overseeing an ongoing corruption probe has said the union's recent reform efforts don’t go far enough and has called for more cooperation.
UAW President Rory Gamble "would welcome the opportunity to personally meet with U.S. Attorney [Matthew] Schneider and his team to discuss the investigation and the reform efforts and new ethics programs the UAW has undertaken," union spokesman Brian Rothenberg said in a statement Thursday. Rothenberg said Gamble planned to announce "major progress" on ethics reforms by the end of the month.
The Detroit News reported the two sides' willingness to meet earlier Thursday.
“I am looking forward to the possibility of meeting personally with UAW President Gamble,” Schneider said in a statement. “I believe we have a mutual interest in making sure the union is free of corruption. I also hope we have a mutual interest in making sure that, moving forward, the union leadership will be fully accountable to the workers. We will see.”
A meeting between the two parties would mark the latest step Gamble is taking in an effort to avoid a federal takeover of the UAW through the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Schneider has repeatedly said a RICO case remains a possibility and that union officials were not cooperating as much as he'd like.
In announcing charges against former UAW President Gary Jones this month, Schneider gave his strongest hint yet that prosecutors would seek that route. The investigation to date has resulted in charges against 14 people and 13 guilty pleas. Jones is expected to plead guilty when he appears in court next month.
"It's not the people working the jobs, it's the leadership," Schneider said. "That is a real indicator there's a larger problem here, and that's why we haven't taken government oversight off the table. That could be appropriate when you have a situation where it's embedded, systemic, long-term corruption."
Schneider this month also said he "was not impressed" with the union's recent reform efforts. Gamble has attempted to implement a number of financial and ethical reforms to stave off government oversight, but Schneider said much more could be done.
"We have to talk about real reforms, genuine reforms," he said. "We're not really seeing that right now."