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UAW President Shawn Fain under investigation by federal monitor, accused of retaliating against union leaders

UAW President Shawn Fain under federal investigation
UAW President Shawn Fain under federal investigation 02:39

(CBS DETROIT) - United Auto Workers union President Shawn Fain and other union leaders are under investigation by a federal court-appointed monitor, according to a court filing.

According to a 32-page status report filed on Monday, Fain is being investigated for allegations that the union has not been cooperating with the monitor, Neil Barofsky, in providing requested documents and that Fain retaliated against the UAW secretary-treasurer for her refusal to authorize "certain expenditures of funds at the request of and/or for the benefit of those in the President's Office." In the report, Barofsky wrote that members of the International Executive Board (IEB) passed a motion allowing Fain to withdraw assignments from the secretary-treasurer following allegations of misconduct.

The report also stated that Barofksy is investigating Fain's removal of one of the union's vice presidents from oversight of the Stellantis Department in May 2024. The vice president claimed that Fain retaliated against him for "refusing to engage in acts of financial misconduct to benefit others." 

In an unrelated investigation, Barofsky received allegations that a regional director was involved in possible embezzlement. 

Fain issued the following statement:

"Taking our union in a new direction means sometimes you have to rock the boat, and that upsets some people who want to keep the status quo, but our membership expects better and deserves better than the old business as usual. We encourage the Monitor to investigate whatever claims are brought to their office, because we know what they'll find: a UAW leadership committed to serving the membership, and running a democratic union. We're staying focused on winning record contracts, growing our union, and fighting for economic and social justice on and off the job."  

Barofsky was appointed in 2021 to investigate the union related to bribery and embezzlement, resulting in convictions of former UAW leaders.

The report stated that the union was cooperating shortly after Barofsky's third report in July 2022, which concluded that UAW was concealing information. However, in February 2024, he started investigating executive members, including Fain, the secretary-treasurer, and one of the union's regional directors, after UAW's level of cooperation started to "erode." 

Around that time, the union submitted about 2,600 of the 116,000 requested documents. More than 80% of the documents submitted were given days before the latest report was issued on June 6.

"Although the Union has cooperated in making UAW employees and senior leaders available to be interviewed by the Monitor's investigative team, the Union has not cooperated in producing documents that are relevant to the investigation in a complete and timely manner, instead requiring the Monitor to conduct those interviews without the benefit of the full production of potentially relevant and contemporaneous documents," Barofsky wrote in the report.

The report cited a consent decree, which states that the monitor has full access to the requested documents and has the authority to remove "fraud, corruption, illegal behavior, dishonesty, and unethical practices from the UAW and its constituent entities."  

UAW argued that it could withhold documents due to privilege; however, Barofsky said that only pertains to when he attends board meetings, which he does as an observer.

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