Paul Sancya / AP
The president of the United Autoworkers Union, Gary Jones, abruptly resigned Wednesday just as union leaders announced that they would expel him and another top UAW official in an anti-corruption scandal.
In a related development, General Motors (GM) brought suit against rival Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) alleging that the company bribed UAW officials to obtain favorable employment contracts and disadvantages GM.
Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported that UAW's international board of directors unanimously voted to dismiss Jones.  "This started the process of removing Gary Jones and another UAW official, Director Vance Pearson.
" Both men have been involved in a corruption scheme that involved abusing union funds for personal expenses, and then covering it up.
"Both Jones and Pearson had already been absent. Pearson is already facing federal charges, while Jones is not so far charged."
A lawyer for Jones, Bruce Maffeo of New York, told the Associated Press that the union president decided to retire before he learned about the board's action.
Hours earlier, GM filed its federal lawsuit that FCA bribed UAW officials to get contracts that allow the company to pay some new employees less money – known as two-tier salaries – resulting in lower labor costs.
"This lawsuit is intended to hold the FCA liable for the damage its actions have caused to our company and to ensure a level playing field," said Craig Glidden, executive vice president and general counsel at GM, in a statement.
The lawsuit alleges that the FCA breached bargaining agreements in 2009, 2011 and 2015.
The FCA responded with a statement dismissing GM's lawsuit as "this extraordinary attempt at distraction" with claims that "is nothing more than a futile attempt to to divert attention from the company's own challenges. "
GM's lawsuit alleges that FCA's former CEO Sergio Marchionne authorized bribes of more than $ 1.5 million paid to UAW officials. Marchionne died in 2018.
It is also claimed that Marchionne hoped to force higher labor costs on GM in hopes of continuing a plan to get the company to merge with the FCA.
As Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports,
"GM's trial of spikebacks on a federal investigation of UAW corruption that began several years ago – resulting in three Fiat Chrysler executives going to jail, along with six guilty charges (so far) by union officials.
in a bribery scheme intended to keep unionists "fat, dumb and happy" (quoting one of the convicted FCA executives, Alphons Iacobelli) during contract talks.
"GM normally says that The union's pattern negotiation results in similar labor costs for all three Detroit automakers. "