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UAW regional director disappointed about letter posted on social media

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    SAGINAW, Michigan (WNEM) — Local UAW leaders are launching an investigation after claims of missing money.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Steve Dawes, region 1D director for the UAW.

Dawes is not happy about a letter recently posted on social media by UAW local 699 elected officials. Dawes claims it’s inaccurate and taken out of context. The memo, claiming missing money by former local leaders, was signed and approved by Rhonda Fritz, the financial secretary, and Thomas Hurst, union president.

“I will guarantee you there is not $341,000 missing,” Dawes said.

UAW local 699 is located in Saginaw and represents members who work for Nexteer. The letter sites in part the four largest reported expenses from 2013-2018 for the local were hotels, restaurants and travel, and the total cost was $341,323.

Hurst and Fritz say in the document it’s their duty to report suspected loss, misappropriation or embezzlement of union dues and funds. The letter states they will launch an investigation using the union insurance policy to cover the costs.

As the regional director, Dawes said the union leadership should have contacted him first or called the UAW ethics hotline.

“For them to take what they think is suspicious activity in the past and go public with it instead of using our institution is absolutely ludicrous,” Dawes said.

The local union leaders also say more than $38,000 was spent between 2013 and 2018 just for sports tickets. The letter attributes financial data gathered from the website uawaccountability.Com.

Dawes calls that an anti-union website and wonders why they didn’t use their own audits to bring up the information.

“They need to follow the constitution, which means they call their regional director and their auditor,” Dawes said.

While Dawes is still looking into the matter, he said past audits have shown no red flags of misspending. He said these allegations unfairly erode the trust of UAW members.

“This is kind of reckless behavior that gives people the wrong perception,” Dawes said.

TV5 reached out to local 699 for further comment but Hurst declined an interview.

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