Kokomo, Indiana Bosses Probed

Bob Bolton considers himself a marked man. The United Auto Workers Local 685 member says he and his family have been threatened and harassed by fellow union members ever since he spoke out about alleged wrongdoing by union leadership. Despite these alleged threats, Bolton and a group of about a dozen Local 685 members have made enough noise that the FBI and others have started looking into the allegations.

Much of the allegations of wrongdoing center on charges that union leaders are being paid for hours they never worked at DaimlerChrysler’s Kokomo Transmission Plant or Indiana Transmission Plant. “Most of the time, they [union bosses] are at the hall and getting paid for 12 hours at Chrysler,” said Bob Bolton, who was an elected Local 685 officer. Bolton resigned as a committee member Sept. 18 because of the alleged threats. “They’re supposed to be representing the members and they’re not,” Bolton said. “I have been hearing this for years, but no one was willing to come forward out of fear for their job security and even their life.”

Trevor Hale, DaimlerChrysler spokesman, said some of the recent allegations brought by Bolton have reached the corporate office. He said the company is looking into aspects of the allegations that relate to it.

Bolton has contacted several organizations, including UAW (Uniting All Workers) Concern, a Detroit-based advocacy group that has investigated wrongdoings in the UAW in the past. Most recently, UAW Concern’s work opened a federal probe into alleged corruption in UAW Local 594 in Pontiac, Mich. Pat Meyer, founder of UAW Concern said she has talked to the FBI about the allegations at Local 685.  Bolton said two FBI agents in Indianapolis contacted him about Local 685.

Bolton’s accusations have also made their way up to the Int’l UAW. On Sept. 16, UAW bosses attended Local 685’s monthly meeting. Member Mark Babb, said he was surprised when he heard a UAW boss threaten Bolton in front of about 200 members. “[The boss] looked directly at him, hesitated, then pointed at him and said he’s going to get him and his time is coming. I never dreamed they would threaten him in front of the membership,” Babb said. [Kokomo Trib. 9/24/00]