Three MI Union Bosses Indicted for Extortion, Nepotism, Mail Fraud

Three Pontiac, Mich., union officials were indicted Sept. 25 on charges that they extorted jobs and overtime payments for family and friends, then hid the payments from the members they had a duty to represent. The indictment comes just two months before a civil trial of the same three officials is scheduled to begin before U.S. Dist. Judge Paul V. Gadola (E.D. Mich., Reagan) in a suit filed by a dissident group of more than 140 workers, known as “UAW Concerns.”

Charged in the criminal case are three frmr. officials of United Auto Workers Local 594, which controls the labor at Gen. Motors’ truck and bus factory in Pontiac. They are: ex-president Donny G. Douglas, frmr. Skilled Trades Cmte. Man William J. Coffey, and Chief Negotiator Jay D. Campbell.

In 1995, acc. to the indictment, the three threatened not to provide any workers to GM’s “mockup” truck facility unless GM hired Jay Campbell’s son, Gordon, and Todd Fante, son-in-law of frmr. 594 official Clarence Powell, neither of whom were qualified in skilled trades. In ‘96, Campbell, Douglas and Coffey made a similar threat to get the same two unqualified individuals into a “validation center” being transferred from Flint to Pontiac.

In 1997, the indictment, the three officials refused to settle an 87-day strike at the main Pontiac plant until GM agreed to hire the two there as well. Allegedly, the three officials then submitted the contract ending the strike to the members for a vote without the section that detailed the hiring of Campbell and Fante. Fed. prosecutors also charge that Coffey, Campbell and Douglas received payments “in excess of $1,000” from GM during the scheme.  According to the civil suit, Coffey received about $60,000, and Campbell more than $40,000.

These acts, acc. to fed. prosecutors, amount to violations of the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act (U.S.C. 18, Sec. 371), and the Hobbs anti-extortion act (U.S.C. 18, Sec. 1951). Their mailing of the contract without the new hires section to local members constituted Mail Fraud in violation of U.S.C. 18, Sections 1341, 1346 & 2. Each of the three face up to 30 years in prison and/or fines totaling $750,000. [U.S.A.O. E.D. MI  9/25/02, Detroit Free Press  9/26/02]