President Emeriti Ron Gettelfinger and Rory Gamble’s Opinion.
“Transparency of Outside Donors is Necessary for All Candidates Running for UAW Office”
Ron Gettelfinger, UAW President Emeritus (2002-2010)
Rory Gamble, UAW President Emeritus (2019-2021)
As former Presidents of the UAW, we have a deep respect for our membership and for our great union and the legacy of its many accomplishments.
The corruption of some former leaders angered our entire union. For UAW members it was infuriating to have disgrace put upon our entire organization. These selfish and cowardly acts hurt us all. It fell to the hands of leaders like current president Ray Curry, who began ethics reforms as Secretary Treasurer in the Gamble Administration, to lead our union forward and rebuild our institution. They stopped corruption dead in its tracks and the numerous policies and safeguards put in place in recent years as well as plans for future reforms will protect the UAW going forward.
There is one lesson from the corruption that plagued our union that no one can deny: money can be given to gain influence. Not all money is corrupt, but the safeguard that keeps everyone honest is transparency. It’s a good policy for UAW reforms, but it is also a good policy for candidates for the highest office in the UAW.
That is why it is alarming to know that one of the candidates in the runoff election for president, Shawn Fain, not only solicits campaign donations from non-UAW individuals and entities but refuses to disclose their identities. He has been asked to disclose the identities of his donors who are not UAW members by UAW president Ray Curry and hundreds if not thousands of UAW members. Yet he stubbornly refuses saying that they are “good people” who support organized labor. What has become public are donations of $30,000, $12,000 and $5000 from three non-UAW members, In addition, it was revealed this week that a candidate appointed by recommendation of the Region 9A Director as AD as his assistant, had not disclosed a $25,000 donation prior to her appointment. It is clear that donors have expectations and big donors have even larger expectations which often include an agenda and access to the candidate.
The rules of the campaign are set by the court-appointed independent Monitor. The Monitor’s Rules set the floor – but there is no reason why a candidate cannot set a higher standard for his campaign. We think someone vying for the highest office in the UAW should lift the bar and strive to model the example we should all follow. We think all candidates for UAW President should voluntarily disclose their non-UAW donors so that UAW members can make an informed decision.
In a few weeks, we will know the outcome of this election and UAW leadership will be determined for the next four years. UAW president Ray Curry will begin on day one with a firm foundation and no cloud of questions about outside influence. We believe UAW members deserve that in their leaders. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Shawn Fain.