The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation ramped up its years-long investigation into corruption involving the United Auto Workers by raiding the home of the union’s president.
Agents searched the home of UAW President Gary Jones in what the union called an unnecessary step, citing his cooperation and desire to uncover and address any wrongdoing. The Detroit News reported earlier that the FBI also raided the home of Jones’ predecessor, Dennis Williams, and a union conference center in northern Michigan.
“There was absolutely no need for search warrants to be used by the government today,” the union said in its statement. “The UAW has voluntarily responded to every request the government has made throughout the course of its investigation, produced literally hundreds of thousands of documents and other materials to the government, and most importantly, when wrongdoing has been discovered, we have taken strong action to address it.”
An FBI spokeswoman confirmed the agency is executing search warrants Wednesday and declined to comment further.
The searches were carried out weeks after the UAW began formal negotiations on new labor contracts for almost 150,000 members employed by General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. Federal prosecutors have already indicted former UAW and Fiat Chrysler officials for participating in a scheme that the federal government has said funneled millions to ex-leaders at the company and union.
Past officials from the UAW and Fiat Chrysler took funds from a joint training organization to exchange gifts including credit cards, golf trips, designer clothing, furniture and jewelry as part of a plan by the automaker to keep senior union officials “fat, dumb, and happy,” prosecutors have alleged.
Both Fiat Chrysler and the UAW have blamed the scandal on a group of bad apples and insisted the corruption had no impact on their 2015 contract. Still, the scope of the federal investigation has recently expanded to include GM and the training center that it runs jointly with the union.
By Gabrielle Coppola and Keith Naughton