UAW president top aide charged with embezzling union dues

A top aide of the president of the United Auto Workers is accused of embezzling union dues and conspiracy to defraud the U. S. on Thursday, becoming the 12th person charged in an ongoing federal investigation.

Edward "Nick" Robinson, 72, of St. Louis, was a top aide of UAW President Gary Jones and president of the United Automobile Workers Midwest Community Action Program. According to a federal indictment, Robinson is accused alongside Vance Pearson, and at least five other individuals referred to as UAW Official A,  UAW Official B, UAW Official C, UAW Official D, and UAW Official E, of embezzling union funds. 

Pearson, charged mid-September, is director of UAW's Region 5 in Missouri, which covers thousands of union members in more than a dozen states, including California. He was the 10th person charged in the investigation of the Detroit-based union's finances.

Court documents say Robinson is charged with conspiracy to embezzle union funds and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. between 2010 and September 2019. He and the seven others listed above were officers of the UAW or employed by the UAW, and allegedly embezzled for their own use more than $1.5 million from the UAW. 

The documents indicate Robinson allegedly negotiated between $500,000 and $700,000 in fraudulent, unsubstantiated or unauthorized checks from the UAW Midwest CAP,  turning these checks into cash.

Robinson is accused of making "significant purchases" of high-end liquor, golf apparel, cigars, wine, golf clubs and other "lavish expenses at the direction of and for senior UAW officials."

This comes just after the UAW reached a tentative agreement with Ford Motor Company and ended a 40-day strike against General Motors. It was the longest automotive strike in 50 years. Workers voted to ratify the new four-year labor deal that includes significant wage gains and bonuses plus makes it easier for temporary employees to attain full-time status.


Back in August, the FBI searched Jones' Canton Township home. The UAW responded by saying there was "absolutely no need" for the search. 

Agents also searched the Corona, California, home of former UAW President Dennis Williams and the union's northern Michigan retreat. 
On September 13, a meeting of union officials was held to discuss UAW business at a Detroit Metropolitan Airport hotel --  a day after federal authorities unveiled the charges against Person. Spokesman Brian Rothenberg said nothing changed after the meeting and that Jones and Vance Pearson are still in office.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.