Acting UAW president says conduct standards are 'priority' for union amid corruption probe

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Rory Gamble, acting president of the United Auto Workers, said in a letter to members Tuesday that ensuring the union's conduct standards are met is his "priority" in his new role.

The letter is Gamble's first public communication to the UAW membership since taking over for Gary Jones on Sunday. Jones was put on paid leave after The Detroit News last week identified him as an unnamed official accused of splitting and pocketing $700,000 in union dues in federal charges against his aide. Jones has not been charged.

"I know recent events concerning members of our leadership have disappointed and angered many of you," Gamble wrote. "I am angry as well, but I am not here to pre-judge anyone. I am here to take this union forward."

A four-year federal investigation into the union has led to charges against 12 people, including 10 convictions, dealing with bribes, kickbacks and embezzlement stretching from the New Jersey coast to Palm Springs, California.

UAW President Rory Gamble.

Gamble said ensuring the union is devoid of such corruption is No. 1 goal.

"I want you to know that I will not excuse or tolerate any inappropriate actions, period," he wrote. "That is my promise to you. From this day on, the UAW must not only adhere to the highest standards of conduct, put in place by former leaders like Walter Reuther. We need to exceed them. And that is my first priority."

Gamble did not provide specifics on how he would do that, though he said he would communicate with members "regularly" on how the union "will adapt and grow stronger."

The UAW has implemented a number of reforms it later dubbed the "clean slate" agenda. The reforms began under Jones' predecessor, Dennis Williams, who also is implicated in the federal probe but has not been charged. They include requirements for a three-bid process for awarding contracts, stricter oversight of staff expenditures, requirements for disclosing conflicts of interests and a gift ban.

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble