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UAW, feds discuss possibility of independent monitor, third-party oversight

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DETROIT — UAW President Rory Gamble and U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider in a nearly two-hour meeting Tuesday discussed the possibility of an “independent monitor” to ensure progress on reform efforts aimed at rooting out corruption.

The unusual gathering, amid the backdrop of an ongoing federal corruption probe, came as Gamble tries to prove the union can clean itself up from within, even as Schneider calls for more meaningful changes.

The two sides, according to a joint release, discussed the prospect of altering longstanding UAW procedures to implement direct election of officers — a move Schneider has publicly advocated for. Gamble also laid out steps the union has taken in recent months to add more stringent controls over spending and other financial matters.

The release said the two sides are considering third-party oversight of any future agreements over reform efforts.

“The Justice Department seeks genuine and sincere reform of the UAW so as to provide the best possible representation for its members,” Schneider said in a statement. “I look forward to working toward a mutually agreeable resolution that will protect the interests of the UAW’s members and their families.”

Gamble, in a statement, said the sides have the same goal.

“As we turn the page to a stronger, better and cleaner union, we continue to make critical decisions that will protect the sacred dues money of our members,” he said. “I look forward to continued discussions in the near future that advance toward closing one dark chapter and opening new, brighter chapters for members of the UAW.”

On Monday, Gamble said ex-President Dennis Williams had returned $55,000 in travel expenses that had been deemed “not appropriate” following an internal review. Williams reportedly is implicated in the ongoing probe but has not been charged with a crime.

The U.S. attorney’s office billed the Tuesday discussion as a “productive and helpful first meeting” that marked the start of negotiations over the future of the union. Schneider has said a federal takeover of the UAW under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act remains a possibility if the union cannot implement meaningful change.

Spokespeople for both Gamble and Schneider declined to make additional comments. It’s unclear when the parties plan to meet again, but the release said they would gather in the coming weeks.

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