The president of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, who has been connected to an ongoing corruption investigation by U.S. federal officials, has taken a leave of absence, the union stated on Saturday in a statement.
Gary Jones’ leave of absence, that follows a vote by the executive board, will be effective starting from Sunday, the UAW stated. He will be replaced on an acting basis by Rory Gamble, who recently led the team which negotiated a new labor deal with Ford Motor, the union stated.
“The UAW is fighting tooth and nail to make sure our members have a brighter future. I do not want anything to distract from the mission. I want to do what’s best for the members of this great union,” Jones stated in the statement, which did not provide a reason for his decision.
UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg refused to comment on the matter. An attorney for Jones, who has not been charged with any misbehavior, could not immediately be reached for comment.
The FBI has been carrying out a wide-ranging probing into illegal payoffs to UAW authorities by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), and the union had hoped to put the federal investigation behind it by electing Jones, a former regional director for the union, as president in last year.
Jones is going to get paid while on leave, according to a person knowledgeable with the process.
He had been chosen as president as he appeared to have been removed from the scandal, sources have stated, but in late August, the FBI conducted searches at Jones’ suburban Detroit home and other places.
A source previously said Jones was “UAW Official A” identified in criminal complaints filed against other UAW leaders. The complaints stated that officials participated in alleged schemes to embezzle funds from the union.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit has refused to identify the unnamed union leaders in the criminal complaints it has submitted.
The widening investigation raises questions if the U.S. government might seek to take over the UAW union.