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UAW Sues Over UAW-Chrysler National Training Center Scandal

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Since July 2017 a number of federal indictments have been handed down involving former Fiat Chrysler executives and UAW union leaders. Rumors abound about a widening probe, targets of that probe, and more indictments. Now, in an apparent offensive move the UAW has filed a lawsuit in Oakland County Circuit Court.

 

The UAW’s June 8 lawsuit seeks to recover millions diverted from the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center.  Articles point out the UAW’s lawsuit characterization of what occurred differs rather “sharply” from how the federal government has characterized the scandal.

 

Now there are dueling lawsuits.  Back in January, a group of UAW union members filed a class action lawsuit against the UAW and Fiat Chrysler alleging the federal indictments and guilty pleas by both former UAW and Chrysler higher-ups demonstrate the UAW’s collective bargaining process with Chrysler was compromised.  The UAW has repeatedly and steadfastly denied this, but statements out of the federal probe have alluded to the fact that the payments to UAW officials were made to keep them “fat dumb and happy.” Other statements surrounding the indictments have also alluded to such a scheme, but no hard facts have been proven and so the various characterizations continue to play out in the press, and now in court.

 

The UAW’s June 8 lawsuit comes just before its 37th Constitutional Convention begins in Detroit and it seems clear one object of the lawsuit is to point the finger away from the UAW writ large. That, of course, may or may not work depending on whether further indictments are handed down or if the federal government releases additional facts or the investigation continues to widen.

 

Where the UAW lawsuit is headed is an open question, but by grabbing the news headlines on the eve of it Constitutional Convention the UAW has seemingly sought to change the narrative, at least for now.  It seems, however, additional shoes will drop in the ever-widening government probe; and ultimately that may shed more light on the strength of the positions being asserted by the UAW and its members in their various lawsuits.

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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