A powerful group of United Auto Workers insiders moved to re-elect Cindy Estrada as the union's vice president Thursday, despite a federal probe into union corruption in which investigators are reportedly examining Estrada's role.
The Reuther Caucus, an influential bloc that has long dominated the union, moved to nominate Estrada to a second term in the leadership, according to Automotive News. Earlier this month, the Detroit News reported that investigators were interested in Estrada regarding the ongoing scandal involving former UAW officials and former executives with the Big Three automakers.
A federal grand jury has charged top officials of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' North American division and the wife of a former top UAW official for corruption. The pair have been charged with diverting $1.2 million in funds from a worker training center jointly run by the union and the manufacturer to buy luxury items, including designer clothing and jewelry, as well as pay off a mortgage.
The Detroit News said FBI investigators are investigating possible similar scams involving worker training centers funded by GM and Ford, jointly run with the UAW. A Nov. 2 report by the newspaper said that investigators were looking at Joe Ashton, a former UAW vice president and GM board member, and Estrada, who succeeded Ashton at the union in 2014. GM is cooperating with the probe.
Estrada's renomination by the Reuther Caucus virtually ensures her re-election. Reuters notes that candidates from the caucus won elections for the last seven decades. The UAW will hold a leadership election in June.
“The UAW needs a complete change of leadership, rather than reshuffling the same cast of characters who’ve presided over the continued waste of workers' dues, corruption scandals, and embarrassing organizing losses," said Terry Bowman, a Ford-UAW worker and co-founder of the activist group Moving Unions Forward.