I’m all for the working class, but this?
A Justice Department probe of backscratching by United Auto Workers’ leaders and Detroit auto executives is turning up embarrassing truths and has resulted in seven convictions for corruption and conspiracy. The revelations underscore the importance of GOP labor reforms in Michigan that Democrats and unions want to reverse.
The FBI’s three-year investigation has revealed that Fiat Chrysler executives funneled cash to UAW worker training centers in return for backing collective-bargaining agreements. Union leaders used the cash to fund their lavish retreats to Palm Springs, condo expenses and other things of value. One former UAW vice president received a $2,180 shotgun.
Government investigators are also probing the union’s use of worker dues. As the Detroit News reported this week, UAW leaders tapped the union strike fund to build a 1,885-square-foot cottage on Black Lake in Onaway, Michigan, for retired President Dennis Williams. The woodsy cabin’s luxury amenities include a wine cooler and even a room hidden behind a bookshelf. Sweet.
The kicker is that the UAW employed nonunion contractors to save money. A UAW spokesperson says that the union “always hires union members and contracts with union contractors when available,” but the two union contractors that bid on the cabin submitted estimates that the UAW believed were too high. In other words, the union didn’t want to pay more for union labor if it meant sacrificing the wine cooler. Thanks to Michigan’s right-to work law that Republicans enacted in 2012, autoworkers can choose whether to belong to the union and fund its high-rolling executives—though perhaps not for long. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer has been endorsed by the UAW and is campaigning to repeal the law, which she calls an “assault on working people.”
Ms. Whitmer also wants to restore the state’s prevailing-wage law that required contractors to pay union scale wages on public works. Republicans repealed the law in June to reduce state construction costs, and apparently not even the UAW believes in paying “prevailing wages.”
Gov. Rick Snyder and his Republican legislature have done yeoman’s work turning around the state after Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s eight-year mess. Workers have benefited from tax and labor reforms that have boosted business investment. If Ms. Whitmer wins and Democrats flip the statehouse, expect an assault on dues-paying working people.