Organized labor is helping to keep the advanced cigar industry profitable, federal investigators suggested Thursday. After years of investigation into widespread corruption among the federation's top ranks, agents arrested UAW Region 5 Director Vance Pearson yesterday, hitting him with charges of undercover, mail and wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy.
Pearson, 58, assumed his position from current UAW President Gary Jones last year. Prior to that, he served as Jones & # 39; s right man in the Missouri position. The charges brought against Pearson cite many named officials who helped organize the assassination, with three sources telling The Detroit News that one of these figures is the big man himself.
Oh, and the Detroit Three contracts expire Saturday night.
The sources claim Jones, pictured below, and former UAW President Dennis Williams are two of the four named officials. Both men's homes were attacked by federal agents late last month.
In interpreting the case, federal prosecutors allege Pearson and the other figures filed union funds during Region 5 conferences. The fake expense reports reportedly rolled into long-term stays at luxury-rented villas in Palm Springs, California and elsewhere, with purchases covering everything you would expect from high-fat pig cats. Hardly that image a union leadership wants to project to its members.
From The Detroit News :
The criminal case outlined a pattern of corruption ranging from California to Detroit and illegal spending by union leaders who spent more than $ 1 million in membership fees at Palm Springs Villas, the steakhouse dinners, 107 rounds of golf, golf equipment, cigars and $ 400 bottles of Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne.
After Pearson's arrest, UAW made the following statement:  "Our highest priority is to maintain the trust of United Auto Worker members. Although these charges are very worrying, we strongly believe that the government has misunderstood a number of facts and emphasizes that these are just allegations, not evidence of wrongdoing. Regardless, we will not let this distract us from the critical negotiations that are underway with GM to get better salaries and benefits for the more than 400,000 members of our union.
Allegedly, between 2014 and 2018, union officials put up $ 60,000 dollars in cigars, humidifiers and various cigar-related equipment, while another $ 100,000 went toward golf equipment and clothing.
In a release, prosecutors argued, "Pearson and his associates used the conferences to hide the use of hundreds of thousands of dollars in UAW funds to pay for lavish entertainment and personal expenses for the conspirators. "
Nine UAW officials have been convicted since the corruption probe began in 2017.
The latest arrest comes as negotiations run ahead of Saturday night's contract expiry date. Negotiations started between UAW and General Motors, with the contract laying the foundations for those with Fiat Chrysler and Ford. It is not expected to forge labor for the next four years, certainly for an industry in the midst of aggressive efficiency improvements. Late yesterday, GM issued a statement saying, "There is no excuse for union officials to enrich themselves at the expense of the union membership they represent."
To say that there is a cloud over these conversations would be an understatement.  [Images: UAW]