Former Union Leader Ashton Quits GM Board

Resignation comes at investigators scrutinize UAW funds.

by on Dec.15, 2017

Former UAW Vice President Joe Ashton resigned from the General Motors' Board of Directors as federal investigators.

General Motors Co. announced Joseph Ashton, a former United Auto Workers vice president who led the union’s GM department, resigned from the company’s board effectively immediately.

Ashton was nominated to the GM board by the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits trust, which administers funds that pay for health benefits for UAW-GM retirees and holds a large block of General Motors stock.

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The trust received the stock has part of the restructuring of GM supervised by the federal government after the company was forced into bankruptcy in 2009.

The trust apparently can nominate a replacement for Ashton, but shareholders won’t vote on the trust’s nominee until the company’s next annual shareholders meeting in June. One possible replacement for Ashton could be UAW president Dennis Williams, who is stepping down in June.

(UAW taps union veteran as its next president. Click Herefor the story.)

UAW President Dennis Williams is a potential replacement for Ashton.

Ashton’s resignation, however, as the U.S. Justice Department investigates the use of money by the training centers funded by GM and Ford Motor Co, and into charities established by senior UAW officers. The training centers are managed jointly by the union and the automakers.

General Motors and Ford confirmed last month they were cooperating with the investigation into the finances of training centers.

GM is also conducting its own investigation of the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources, the company spokesman said, but did not provide details of that investigation.

(Click Here for details about the FCA/UAW training center investigation.)

Ashton, who was the first UAW official to sit on GM’s board, has not been charged with any wrongdoing, and federal authorities have not disclosed that he is under scrutiny as part of their probe.

Nevertheless, Ashton’s abrupt resignation is considered a setback for the UAW, which has long sought to have representation on company boards.

Federal officials expanded their probe of the training centers after charging a former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV vice president of making $1.2 million in improper payments to a former union vice president and his wife. Four people have been charged in the Fiat Chrysler investigation.

(Is the ground collapsing under the UAW? For more, Click Here.)

The UAW also announced a series of internal changes that tighten up the oversight of the money spent by the training centers, which unlike unions and individual union locals, are not subject to federal financial disclosure requirements.

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