(WXYZ) — United Auto Workers President Gary Jones is taking a paid leave of absence amid a federal investigation of corruption in the union.
The UAW said Jones requested the leave, which will take effect Sunday, Nov. 3.
“The UAW is fighting tooth and nail to ensure our members have a brighter future. I do not want anything to distract from the mission. I want to do what’s best for the members of this great union,” Jones said.
Vice President Rory Gamble, who recently negotiated the Ford agreement, will serve as acting president and assume full responsibility for the president’s office.
Gamble said the UAW would continue to fight for its members every single day: “Together throughout the last few months, we’ve achieved substantial victories for UAW members and we know that we have more work to do. We want better health care coverage, better salaries and respect for our work. That will not change.”
“Rory’s number one objective is to clean up the union," said Rev. Horace Sheffield III, who has family ties to the UAW dating back decades.
His father pushed in the 50s and 60s to put an African American on the UAW's board. He spoke with Gamble Saturday morning about his new role; he will be the first African American president in the union's 84-year history.
"For Rory Gamble, come out of Local 600, come out of Region 1A where my dad, my grandfather, even my son now belongs is a really historic event," he said.
The federal government has been investigating fraud and misuse of funds at the UAW for more than two years.
Nick Kiciak works at the Warren Stamping Plant for Fiat-Chrysler. He said he's lost trust in the union's entire inner circle, and think rank and file members deserve more of an input in the union's future.
“The UAW membership has to invoke articles 8, 30, 31 to convene a special convention here in Detroit. We have to reform the UAW from the bottom to the top. But beginning at the top.”
Jones has not been charged. But in a court filing last week, federal prosecutors alleged that seven top UAW officials conspired since 2010 to embezzle funds through schemes such as submitting false vouchers for conference expenses.