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Fiat Chrysler UAW Collective Bargaining Process Under a Microscope

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Yesterday another high ranking UAW official pled guilty in the federal government’s ongoing investigation into Fiat Chrysler’s and high-ranking UAW officials’ payoff scandal (see previous posts: Jun 12 | March 23 | Nov 3) Nancy Adams Johnson, a top assistant to UAW Vice President Jewell Norwood, admitted to receiving illegal payments and using funds illegally from Fiat Chrysler. The government’s investigation now has been expanded to include other automakers as well, but currently the UAW Fiat Chrysler connection is the focus of government prosecutors. In exchange for her plea, Ms. Adams Johnson has agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors. This could be more bad news for both Fiat Chrysler and the UAW. Norwood, with whom Adams Johnson worked closely, was in charge of negotiating the current CBA between Fiat Chrysler and the UAW, and some have speculated he may be a target of the government’s investigation, too.

 

The UAW has vehemently denied the Fiat Chrysler payments were linked in any way to the collective bargaining process. As recently as last month the UAW filed a lawsuit in Oakland County Circuit Court pointing fingers at alleged rouge figures both at Fiat Chrysler and within the UAW’s own ranks as the culprits and that the UAW was itself harmed by these actors. However, yesterday the government prosecutor presiding over Ms. Adams Johnson’s guilty plea was quoted as saying “Today’s conviction of yet another senior UAW official further exposes the dishonorable scheme between UAW officials and Fiat Chrysler executives to corrupt the collective bargaining process at the expense of rank and file members.”

 

It appears the federal government disagrees with the UAW’s characterization, and others may now be dragged into the scandal as witnesses, like Ms. Adams Johnson, cooperate more fully with prosecutors.

Keith Brodie

Keith J. Brodie is a partner in Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s Grand Rapids, Michigan office. He devotes his practice exclusively to labor and employment law. He is a practitioner and counselor to his clients on labor matters including collective bargaining, union organizing, NLRB unfair labor practice charge defense, and labor strategies for mergers, acquisitions and reorganizations.

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