Ex-UAW President Dennis Williams returns $55,000 in travel expenses

DETROIT — Ex-UAW President Dennis Williams has returned $55,000 in travel expenses to the union following an internal review of expenditures.

In a Monday statement to members, President Rory Gamble said the expenses were found to have been “not appropriate” but he did not detail where they came from. Additionally, he said the union was finalizing the sale of a cabin in northern Michigan, built in part with nonunion labor, for Williams’ use.

“As I said from day one, we are committed to recovering any and all dues funds that have been misappropriately spent,” Gamble wrote. “I hope this sends a strong message to all UAW leadership that you are stewards of sacred dues dollars and we will do whatever is necessary to protect that oath of office.”

The update comes a day before Gamble is set to meet with U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider to discuss reform efforts. Since becoming UAW president in November, Gamble has attempted to show that the union can clean itself up from within as he tries to avoid a potential federal takeover, which Schneider says remains a possibility if he doesn’t see more meaningful changes.

“I go into this meeting confident that we will bring this chapter to a close soon and continue to restore your faith in our leadership and our role as the defenders of the working men and women across this great nation of ours,” Gamble said. “I look forward to our next chapter.”

Williams, who has not been charged with a crime, reportedly has been implicated in a years-long corruption probe that so far has resulted in 14 guilty pleas from former union and automaker officials. They include former President Gary Jones, who succeeded Williams. Jones awaits sentencing and has agreed to aide prosecutors in the ongoing case.

Federal officials last year raided the homes of Jones, Williams and other UAW officials. Court documents say Jones and others, including “UAW Official B” — whom The Detroit News has reported is Williams — spent hundreds of thousands of member dollars on trips to Palm Springs, Calif.; golf outings; fancy dinners; and other luxuries.