Willie Haynes had enjoyed a three-year streak until he pushed his luck too far. On Monday, July 9, Haynes, formerly financial secretary of United Auto Workers Local 362 in Bay City, Michigan, pleaded guilty in federal court to falsifying union records. Prosecutors had not charged him with embezzlement, yet made clear that his alteration of financial reports was intended to cover up thefts. As such, he faces up to six months in prison, the same sentence he would face if he had been charged with stealing between $5,000 and $10,000.
During fiscal years 2001, 2002 and 2003, Haynes, now 61, knowingly made false statements on the Department of Labor’s LM-2 annual financial reporting form. His lawyer, Peter Jensen, thinks this is all a misunderstanding. His client, he argues, had taken about $10,000 over the three-year period, got caught by DOL auditors, and repaid the money by the end of 2004. Yet in the face of this, Labor Department investigators alerted the Justice Department, which in turn decided to prosecute. Haynes merely had taken advantage of a system that allowed his to take time off to conduct business for the union, which represents workers at the General Motors Powertrain plant in Bay City; the plant assembles engine and transmission components. The union was supposed to pay him for the time on the condition that GM would not. Yet Haynes never took four-hours-per-week time off as he had promised, and collected the money anyway, something even his attorney admitted. Haynes, unavailable for comment, had denied stealing funds until now. (Bay City Times, 7/11/07).