(WXYZ) — A welder who rose from the factory floor to become president of a venerable U.S. labor union was convicted and sentenced to 21 months in prison for corruption.
Ex-UAW President Dennis Williams took winter vacations in the California sun covered by dues paid by members of the United Auto Workers. Williams, who led the UAW from 2014 to 2018, appeared in federal court Tuesday. He's the latest in a long line of union officials who acknowledge betraying members through corruption.
Williams pleaded guilty to an embezzlement scheme that turned union dues into a pot of cash for golf, lodging and fancy meals. The government says Williams “has cast a stain” on the UAW.
Williams was also ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Paul Borman to pay $132,000 in restitution and a $10,000 fine. Williams must also forfeit all illegally purchased items in connection with the case.
The UAW released a statement following Williams' sentencing saying:
"Former UAW Member and President Dennis Williams has rightfully been sentenced today for his crimes that put his personal and self-interest above that of our members and this Union. “These serious crimes violated the oath of UAW officers and they violated the trust of UAW officers to handle our members’ sacred dues money."
In August 2020, the UAW’s International Executive Board took action to stop payment of Williams’ legal fees. Subsequently the UAW demanded Williams resign his Union membership or face trial proceedings to secure revocation of his Union membership under Article 31 of the UAW Constitution. On September 18, 2020 Williams resigned his UAW membership effective immediately. Under policies of the UAW, including those enacted by current UAW President Rory L. Gamble and our International Executive Board, Williams is required to repay the UAW for all legal fees paid by the Union on his behalf or face legal action and Williams is required to repay UAW funds he wrongly took or misspent. The Union is dealing with Williams’ counsel and his insurer concerning full repayment of the legal fees. In coordination with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the UAW has obtained $132,000 in restitution from Williams on account of Union funds he wrongly spent on personal lodging, meals, liquor, and golf.
Under the leadership of UAW President Rory L. Gamble, the UAW and the UAW International Executive Board continues its comprehensive review and strengthening our Union’s financial and ethical policies and controls and will continue to take the strong actions necessary to restore the full faith and trust of the UAW's more than 400,000 members across the country.
As we have committed to our membership, when the UAW finds there has been wrongdoing, we will take all available actions to hold that person accountable regardless of status within the organization."