UAW President Shawn Fain is under investigation by the federal monitor

United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain testifies about the toll of workers' work hours before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on March 14, 2024 in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

DETROIT – United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain is under investigation by a federal court-appointed watchdog charged with monitoring the union and rooting out corruption, according to a court filing Monday.

Observer Neil Barofsky is investigating whether Fain abused his power as union president. He also accuses union leaders, including Fain, of obstructing the investigation and hindering his access to information.

Such actions could potentially violate a 2020 consent decree between the UAW and the Justice Department, which avoided a federal takeover of the union.

“The Monitor has attempted for months to obtain the Union's cooperation in gathering the information necessary to conduct a full investigation, but the Union has effectively delayed the Monitor's access to the requested documents,” it reads the official report.

The monitor also opened an unrelated investigation into another unnamed member of the UAW International Executive Board, or IEB, a regional director, after receiving allegations of possible embezzlement, the filing said.

The UAW did not immediately respond for comment.

The union is in the middle of a national organization of non-union automakers. The allegations follow Fain's rise to international fame after the union under his leadership scored record contracts with General engines, Ford engine And Stellantis.

The lawsuit, first reported by The Detroit News, says Barofsky's concerns largely began in February, after the Observer “began investigating current members of the IEB — including the president, the secretary-treasurer and one of the regional directors of the Union.”

The investigation stems from union leaders cutting all assigned responsibilities Secretary-Treasurer Margaret Mock which were not constitutionally required due to allegations that she had engaged in misconduct in the execution of her financial oversight responsibilities.

In response, the filing says that Mock “made her own allegations against the President of the Union that, among other things, the charges against her were false and that the removal of her authority was improperly initiated in retaliation for her refusal or unwillingness to expenditure.”

More recently, the filing states that the Observer expanded the investigation to include additional allegations of retaliation by Fain against one of the union's vice presidents.

The filing states that more than three months after the regulator's original document request, the union has produced “a very small portion (approximately 2,600 documents) of the current potentially relevant pool of approximately 116,000 – and that more than 80% of those documents alone on June 6, 2024, days before the publication of this report.”

The Observer believes that “the union's delay in providing relevant documents hinders and distorts its access to information necessary for its investigative work and, if left unchecked, is a clear violation of the Consent Decree,” the filing said.

The consent decree followed a years-long corruption investigation into the union, which included embezzlement, bribery and other charges. It resulted in several convictions of union leaders and Fiat Chrysler executives, including two former union presidents.

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