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Auto Workers Strike Against GM Comes As Union Leaders Face Corruption Investigation

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  • About 49,000 United Auto Workers (UAW) members walked out against General Motors factories across the country Monday.
  • The workers are demanding fair wages, job security, affordable health care and other benefits.
  • The strike comes as the Justice Department investigates UAW’s leadership for corruption involving more than $1 million.

About 49,000 United Auto Workers members walked out against General Motors factories across the country Monday as the union’s leadership battles corruption allegations.

UAW’s contract of four years with GM expired Saturday night, and its members from all over the country are demanding fair wages, job security, affordable health care and other benefits, according to a Sunday statement from the labor union.

Pay for entry-level assembly workers starts at around $20 an hour, but union members want that number to increase to $30 in three or four years, TIME magazine reported.

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GM said it offered members 5,400 new jobs, $7 billion in investments and wage benefits including better profit-sharing and health care plans, according to a Sunday statement.

“We presented a strong offer that improves wages, benefits and grows U.S. jobs in substantive ways and it is disappointing that the UAW leadership has chosen to strike at midnight tonight,” the car manufacturer said in a statement. “We have negotiated in good faith and with a sense of urgency. Our goal remains to build a strong future for our employees and our business.”

The strike comes as the Justice Department investigates UAW’s leadership for corruption after the FBI raided the home of UAW President Gary Jones on Aug. 28 and discovered more than $30,000 in cash and an expensive set of golf clubs purchases with union money, according to the Detroit Free Press citing an affidavit written by a Labor Department official.

UAW said in an Aug. 28 statement that the union and Jones “have always fully cooperated with the government investigators in this matter. As the leader of the UAW, President Jones is determined to uncover and address any and all wrongdoing, wherever it might lead.” (RELATED: Scantily Clad Women Lit The Cigars Of High-Level UAW Officials, Paid For By Car Companies)

“There was absolutely no need for search warrants to be used by the government today — the UAW has voluntarily responded to every request the government has made throughout the course of its investigation, produced literally hundreds of thousands of documents and other materials to the government, and most importantly, when wrongdoing has been discovered, we have taken strong action to address it,” the statement continued.

Federal authorities on Sept. 12 accused Jones, as well as former UAW President Dennis Williams and UAW Region 5 Director Vance Pearson, of organizing a scheme to embezzle member dues and spend that money on personal items, The Detroit News reported citing three sources familiar with the criminal case.

The criminal case also details how UAW leaders allegedly spent more than $1 million intended for a UAW worker training center with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles “on Palm Springs villas, steakhouse dinners, 107 rounds of golf, golf gear, cigars and $400 bottles of Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne,” The Detroit News reported.

Pearson has been attending negotiation meetings to help come up with a deal between the union and GM, The Detroit News reported Monday.

Pearson also allegedly lied to a Detroit News reporter who asked, “Are you Vance Pearson?” He replied, “No, ma’am,” according to the report.

UAW said in a Sept. 13 statement, “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. Our highest priority is maintaining the trust and confidence of United Auto Workers members.”

The strike could cost GM nearly $50 million per day in earnings, and pre-market trading shares fell 3.2% Monday, TIME reported citing Credit Suisse analyst Dan Levy.

President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday night, “Here we go again with General Motors and the United Auto Workers. Get together and make a deal!”

2020 Democratic presidential candidates including Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont; former Vice President Joe Biden; New York entrepreneur Andrew Yang; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro expressed support for union.

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