UAW presidential candidate Will Lehman informs Monitor of UAW efforts to block his nomination

On Thursday, July 21, UAW presidential candidate Will Lehman sent the following letter to Neil Barofsky, the Monitor appointed by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to oversee the conduct of the UAW. The letter addresses the UAW’s efforts to block Lehman from receiving access to the list of delegates as is required by federal court order.

Dear Mr. Barofsky,

My name is William Lehman. I am a worker at the Mack Trucks plant in Macungie, Pennsylvania and I am a candidate for UAW president. Your office deemed my campaign “bona fide” on July 13.

I am writing you to report serious violations by the UAW of the terms of the Consent Decree and the UAW 2022 Election Rules. These violations are part of an anti-democratic effort to keep me from the ballot and relate to the concerning information contained in your third status report to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan dated July 19, 2022.

The July 19, 2022 Status Report

In the July 19 status report, your office informed the District Court that, for much of 2022, the UAW leadership has stonewalled the Monitor, denied it access to information to which it is legally entitled, and covered up for ongoing misuse of UAW funds, including by candidates for International office. The status report implicates incumbent UAW President Raymond Curry and Secretary-Treasurer Frank Stuglin personally in these actions. This raises considerable concerns about the fairness of the elections, because Mr. Curry is also contesting the race for presidency, and Mr. Stuglin is in charge of critical aspects of the election process.

The status report states, “the Union’s cooperativeness [with the Monitor] veered sharply in the wrong direction” earlier this year. It adds that “the UAW has slowed its production of other investigative materials to the Monitor and declined to timely share certain information about its efforts to implement compliance reforms.”

The status report explains that the UAW was systematically violating Judge Lawson’s Consent Decree:

Making matters worse, as the Monitor tried to carry on with his work, the Monitor uncovered evidence that the Union’s leadership and its then-lawyers were concealing from the Monitor an investigation by the Union into the mishandling of a sum of cash by a regional Assistant Director, a senior Union official. The Union withheld information about this misconduct and the related investigation even though, from early in the monitorship, the Monitor has had a standing request to the Union for prompt disclosure of information about all investigations into potential financial misconduct or corruption taking place in the Union. The Monitor had also specifically warned the Union’s President in writing about the need to comply with that demand, following a previous failure to do so. The Union compounded that violation of its obligation to cooperate with the Monitor by improperly excluding a representative of the Monitor from an “executive session” of a meeting of the Union’s International Executive Board (“IEB”) in which factual information about this ongoing investigation was shared.

The status report notes that “these actions resulted in the apparent obstruction and interference with the investigative work of the Monitor in violation of Paragraph 18(d) of the Consent Decree.” The status report explains that US Attorney Dawn Ison convened a meeting with her staff and UAW President Ray Curry at which she said the UAW and President Curry were engaged in “gamesmanship” and would “face action from the Department of Justice” as a result.

The status report also discloses that there are currently 19 open investigations against the UAW, including “five new matters that were opened since the filing of the Initial Status Report” in November 2021. The most recent report notes “it is still too soon to fully assess the Union’s progress in carrying out the reforms it must enact to sustain much needed cultural change” and that the UAW has a “great distance” to cover.

The status report also reveals that the UAW continues to misuse the hard-earned dues money of rank-and-file workers like me. The status report cites the fact that “the UAW used Union resources to purchase approximately 1,500 backpacks with the name and title of an IEB member who is currently running for IEB office” on them, even though this violates federal law. It cost the UAW $95,000 to pay for these backpacks, which had the name “Secretary-Treasurer Frank Stuglin” on them. The involvement of Secretary-Treasurer Stuglin is concerning to me, since he was the official who has prevented me from obtaining the full delegates list, as I will explain below.

The status report further reveals that the UAW has renewed at least one contract with a consultant that would have been proscribed had the UAW followed the requirements of the Consent Decree regarding corruption. It shows the Union paid “more than $850,000” to a consultant that was not required to submit reports showing whether they were actually doing any work. The report notes that the UAW is holding more and more conferences that “cost over a million dollars each” but have no oversight. At an April 2022 conference, the UAW spent $300,000 on a dinner party in New Orleans.

Efforts by UAW to undermine my candidacy

The fact that the Department of Justice determined that leading UAW officials were engaged in violating the Consent Decree sheds critical light on actions that the UAW has taken against my campaign. The UAW has repeatedly violated the 2022 UAW Election Rules put forward by the Monitor in an attempt to keep me off the ballot and deny workers a real, rank-and-file alternative in the election.

On Thursday, July 14, I called and emailed Mr. Stuglin to obtain from the UAW the full list of delegates, as is my right under Rule 4-11, so that I could contact them and ask for their nomination at the upcoming convention. The rule states that “all candidates have the right to request and receive from the Office of the UAW Secretary-Treasurer a list of the names and Local Union numbers of all Convention delegates.” (emphasis added)

Mr. Stuglin did not reply to my calls or emails. On Friday, July 15, at 4:30 p.m., UAW Director of Information Systems Michael Lacour contacted me and said he had received a request for “some information” and would “provide direction on how to receive that information,” but that he was “heading out of the office for the weekend” and would not be back until Monday morning. He did not answer the phone when a volunteer for my campaign called him back at roughly 4:40 p.m. that same day.

On Saturday, July 16, I emailed Mr. Stuglin and Mr. Lacour to repeat my request that they release the full delegate list to me immediately. On the morning of Monday, July 18, I called Mr. Lacour back as he instructed me to do, and he told me he needed to ensure my candidacy had been deemed “bona fide.” I sent him the email from your office confirming I was bona fide, but he still did not provide me with any delegates list. I only received a delegates list on the afternoon of July 18 after contacting the vendor, Merriman River, whose representative informed me that this was only a “partial list.” This list contained only 841 names, which I understand is roughly half the total delegates elected to attend the convention. To date, Mr. Stuglin has not provided me with the full list and has not responded to any of my communications.

Between my initial request on July 14 and my receipt of a partial list on July 18, five days had passed, almost half of the time between my initial request and the start of the convention on the 25th. I still do not have the full list. Though I was able to send an email to this partial list through Merriman River on July 18, Rule 4-11 states that I have the right to a list of “all Convention delegates” to be provided by the UAW Secretary-Treasurer. Both the delay and the refusal of the UAW to provide the full delegate list has substantially deprived me of the ability to contact delegates as is my right under Rule 4-11.

Furthermore, over the week of July 14-15, volunteers for my campaign called UAW locals to ask for delegate lists and identified themselves as representatives of my campaign. They were told on multiple occasions by local officials that the locals would not provide delegate lists to my campaign. Workers who support my campaign report that in multiple workplaces, lists of convention delegates that had previously been posted in a public location have been removed so that workers cannot learn who their delegates are.

Additionally, on Tuesday, July 12, I wrote a request to the Monitor asking to send an email to the Global Mailing List pursuant to Rule 4-7 of the Election Rules to inform the membership about my campaign and reasons for running. Rule 4-7 states that I am entitled to “the entire list” and that “there shall be no discrimination in favor or against any Candidate” regarding emailing the global list. Rule 4-7 also states that “all bona fide candidates” will have the opportunity to use “the list of the last known names, mailing addresses, and email addresses of all members.”

After receiving no reply, I sent follow-up emails to the Monitor on July 14 and 15. The Monitor did reply on July 16 and informed us the name of the vendor. I was informed by Merriman River that the email list of UAW members consists of only 84,000 members, which Merriman River told me was sent by the Secretary-Treasurer’s office. This constitutes only 10 percent of the total number of eligible voters in this November’s election, in which 400,000 active members and 500,000 retirees are eligible to vote. The UAW’s decision to make available only a tiny slice of the total membership’s email addresses is a violation of my rights.

Furthermore, I plan to assert my right to attend the nominating session of the convention or have a representative of my campaign attend the nominating session in order to accept the nomination. Bona fide candidates like myself have rights under federal labor law, and the UAW is not respecting these rights.

Thank you for taking these matters under consideration,

William Lehman