U.S. Markets open in 3 hrs 11 mins

UAW leader unveils ethics reforms after corruption probe

The UAW will tighten controls on spending, and establish an ethics hotline to try to restore trust in the wake of a scandal that has claimed a dozen union officials (AFP Photo/JEFF KOWALSKY)

Detroit (AFP) - Wracked by corruption scandals in the powerful union, the interim leader of the United Auto Workers on Wednesday unveiled a far reaching ethics reforms to try to right the ship.

The bribery and corruption scandal has engulfed multiple union officials, and UAW President Gary Jones abruptly took a leave of absence from the union this month, without explaining his departure. The FBI raided Jones's home in August as part of the investigation.

UAW Acting President Rory Gamble said he is "committed to putting in place the right mechanisms to safeguard our union, regaining the trust of our members, and ensuring the misconduct that has recently come to light will never happen again."

The reforms include establishing "stringent monetary controls that increase oversight by the UAW Accounting Department," and stricter enforcement against anyone found guilty of misusing union funds, Gamble said in a statement.

UAW also will establish an ethics hotline and create two new positions overseeing ethics, including an external officer to investigate complaints.

The changes "will lay the foundation for a more transparent, more accountable and more responsible future for our union."

"This is just the beginning. But it's a beginning that will set us on the right path for the future."

US prosecutors early this month charged former UAW vice president Joe Ashton, who served on the GM board, with money laundering as part of a broadening criminal probe into the union's activities.

About a dozen current and former UAW officials and auto industry executives have been charged in the probe, which centers on revelations that they enriched themselves through the Center for Human Resources, a joint body run by the auto companies and the union that was meant to train workers.

The UAW is midway through contract negotiations with Detroit's "Big Three" automakers, following agreement to end a strike at General Motors.

A labor agreement with Ford is expected to be finalized this week, while contract talks with Fiat-Chrysler are pending.