Gary Casteel, the UAW"s No. 2 leader, to retire

DETROIT -- UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel will not seek re-election and plans to retire when his current term ends in June.

His unexpected retirement comes amid a federal probe into the union and jointly operated training centers with the Detroit 3 automakers.

Casteel, 60, has not been formally named or charged with any crimes as part of the probe that initially centered on a training center between the union and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. According to a source familiar with the investigation, Casteel has not been a primary target of the U.S. probe, which federal prosecutors say involved $4.5 million in training center funds being illegally diverted to union and officials with FCA.

"After much thought and discussion with my family, I have made a personal decision not to seek re-election as secretary-treasurer of the UAW," Casteel said in an emailed statement to Automotive News. "As I stated last fall, Detroit is a terrific place, but my wife and I love our hometown near Nashville."

According to two other sources familiar with the matter, Casteel announced plans to retire with union leaders on Friday.

"We"ve made strides"

His decision to retire comes less than five months after Casteel was named as part of a UAW leadership-approved slate of officers to run for election at the union"s constitutional convention in June.

Casteel, a UAW member since 1988, succeeded current UAW President Dennis Williams as secretary-treasurer in June 2014. The secretary-treasurer of the UAW has traditionally been the union"s second-most powerful post. Williams is retiring as president after the June convention and UAW Region 5 Director Gary Jones has been slated to succeed Williams as president.

Casteel previously served as UAW Region 8 director -- leading the union"s efforts to organize transplants in the South.

Despite the probe, struggles to organize foreign-owned auto plants and a steady decline in U.S. manufacturing jobs, Casteel said he is "as optimistic as ever about the future" of the UAW.

"We"ve made great strides in recent years to balance our budget and reach fiscal stability," he said. "Meanwhile, we still have much work to do and I look forward to seeing new successes in organizing. It has been an honor and privilege to serve."

Ongoing investigation

Prosecutors contend that FCA employees and executives paid union workers through the training center, personal charities and other methods, including training center credit cards, to influence union business, including collective bargaining negotiations in 2011 and 2015.

The union has adamantly denied such allegations, citing its collective bargaining process prohibits a few from being able to influence the UAW"s contracts with the automakers.

Seven people -- five of whom have pleaded guilty -- have been charged in the training funds case, which has led federal officials to investigate similar operations at Ford Motor Co. and General Motors. No one from those organizations has been charged.

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