DETROIT — UAW President Rory Gamble said the union has completed its search weeks ahead of schedule for three candidates for the role of independent monitor as part of its U.S. consent decree.
The decree, approved late last month, called for the UAW to name three candidates for the position and submit them to the court within 30 days.
Gamble, speaking Wednesday with the Automotive Press Association in Detroit, said the union interviewed five candidates, selected three and is in the process of submitting their names.
“As soon as we had the press conference with [former U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider], we got busy,” Gamble said. “The ones I interviewed were all very knowledgeable and had an open approach to how it should be done. Our culture is of such now that the monitor will have a very boring job.”
The government can either approve one of the union’s candidates or seek additional options, but it will seek to select one within 60 days of receiving the initial candidates. The selection must then be approved and appointed by the court.
The monitor will have the power to bring charges against anyone found to have committed fraud, corruption or illegal behavior and has the right to review all “nonconfidential financial data, books, records, audit findings and other similar records” and can disclose that information to members if deemed necessary. The monitor will also have the right to sit in on all of the union’s international executive board meetings except for matters “concerning collective bargaining strategy.”
The independent monitor is among the key points in a six-year consent decree agreed to after prosecutors found evidence of rampant corruption among top union officers, including its past two presidents. The union is also expected to hold a vote to potentially change the way it chooses its leaders by moving to a one-member-one-vote system.
Gamble appeared Wednesday to oppose switching from the current process, which has effectively allowed a slate of candidates from the union’s Reuther caucus to cruise to victory in quadrennial elections.
“There’s no corruption that’s been found in that system,” Gamble said. “How you elect someone does not define whether they’re going to be corrupt or not. Corruption begins in the heart.”
Still, Gamble said union officials would educate members on the pros and cons of each system ahead of a vote to change the process. The process will be overseen by the monitor.
“They’re going to make that decision,” he said. “But to say how we elect our leadership involves corruption in any way is just not true and is simply a political reach and something being perpetrated by some people who see an opportunity here from a very bad situation.”
The Detroit 3 automakers and UAW are working on plans to make coronavirus vaccinations available to auto factory workers when supplies are available, Gamble said Wednesday.
“All three companies have committed” to vaccinating workers, Gamble said during a video conference with the Detroit Automotive Press Association. Gamble said Stellantis has begun vaccinating workers at one of the company’s U.S. factories.
About 1,200 workers at a Stellantis assembly plant in Belvidere, Ill., which builds Jeeps, received coronavirus vaccinations during a drive last week, company spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said Wednesday.
Gamble on Wednesday reiterated his belief that workers should get vaccinated, but that automakers should not require that they do so. Gamble said he recently received the first of two Moderna vaccine doses in downtown Detroit and plans to get his second shot later this month.
Reuters contributed to this report.