On Thursday, top UAW official, Vance Pearson, was arrested and charged with embezzling union money to fund lavish parties for UAW leaders.
Vance Pearson, Director of UAW’s Region 5 and a former aide to UAW president Gary Jones, was arrested and charged with embezzling “vast sums” of union money to spend on “lavish entertainment by labor leaders – including $440 bottles of champagne originally created to please a Russian czar and scantily clad women to light union leaders’ cigars,” according to Reuters.
Pearson’s charges are the latest in a years-long corruption probe into the United Auto Workers that has seen several top leaders sentenced to prison for either stealing or misusing money that was meant for the UAW members.
The criminal case against Pearce outlined “a pattern of corruption stretching from California to Detroit and illegal spending by union leaders who spent more than $1 million of member dues on Palm Springs villas, steakhouse dinners, 107 rounds of golf, golf gear, cigars and $400 bottles of Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne,” reported the Detroit News.
To make matters worse for the UAW, Gary Jones and Dennis Williams—the current and former UAW presidents, respectively, have both been implicated in Pearce’s case as having “defrauded the union by using fraudulent expense reports for items during prolonged stays in luxury Palm Springs villas.”
“Those visits lasted days, weeks and even months beyond the union’s official business purpose for being in the desert oasis,” the Detroit News reported.
“Our highest priority is maintaining the trust and confidence of United Auto Worker members,” the UAW stated in a press release. “While these allegations are very concerning, we strongly believe that the government has misconstrued any number of facts and emphasize that these are merely allegations, not proof of wrongdoing.”
In a strongly-worded statement reported by the Washington Post, General Motors stated it was “outraged and concerned by the conduct of union officials outlined by the government.”
“These serious allegations represent a stunning abuse of power and trust. There is no excuse for union officials to enrich themselves at the expense of the union membership they represent,” GM stated.
According to the union’s financial reports on file with the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2018 alone, the UAW spent $270,479 on hotel charges at the Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel.
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