Trust is next challenge in GM-UAW tentative agreement says PR expert

As General Motors and the United Auto Workers agree on a tentative labor contract Wednesday, trust becomes a key factor in moving the deal forward.

"That's been a concern from the beginning because the entire union has been shrouded in scandal," said Matt Friedman, public relations strategist with Tanner Friedman.

That includes the person holding the union's highest position: UAW President Gary Jones.   


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Jones has not been charged, but his home was raided and he was implicated by federal prosecutors in an indictment of a former confidant who conspired to embezzle member dues. 

Vance Pearson, the director of the UAW's Region 5 was charged with corruption in an alleged scheme to embezzle union money and spend it on luxury items.

Friedman, who specializes in crisis communication, says to get this deal ratified, the leadership must be transparent.

"It's incumbent now on the union leadership to be very clear in communication to explain to their membership everything that was negotiated on their behalf and also explain why they should be trusted to have made this deal," he said.

What's also crucial is that union leaders acknowledge the scandal and not look the other way, he said.

"Human instinct is to not talk about the tough stuff but sometimes you have to acknowledge the tough stuff to be able to get your audience to trust you," he said. "It's not easy but in cases like this it's necessary."