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UPDATE 3-United Auto Workers President Rory Gamble to retire at end of June

(Adds no comment by U.S. attorney’s office in Detroit, details, background)

June 25 (Reuters) - The United Auto Workers (UAW) on Friday said President Rory Gamble will retire at the end of June, a year before completing his tenure, after steering the union through a multiyear federal corruption investigation.

Gamble, 65, took charge of the 400,000-strong labor union in late 2019 from Gary Jones, who was ousted for embezzling union funds and sentenced to 28 months in jail.

Gamble worked with prosecutors to reform the union, which represents hourly workers at the U.S. plants for automakers General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and Stellantis .

A UAW spokesperson said the executive board began meeting Friday afternoon on naming a successor to Gamble.

“After looking at the progress we have made and the best interests of UAW members for a stable transfer of power, this is the right time for me to turn over the reins,” Gamble said in a statement, adding he had initially intended to retire at this time before he was named president.

The UAW did not make Gamble available for further comment.

During Gamble’s presidential tenure, the union agreed to independent oversight to resolve a five-year federal corruption investigation in which Jones and his predecessor Dennis Williams pleaded guilty.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Detroit, which led the corruption probe, declined to comment on Gamble’s retirement.

Gamble has also pushed to protect the interests of union workers as the industry shifts to electric vehicles, which require fewer parts to build and put UAW jobs at risk. The union has encouraged lawmakers to revise federal tax incentives for EVs to require U.S. assembly.

Many UAW autoworkers earn their livings building Detroit-brand, petroleum-burning pickup trucks and SUVs or assembling engines and other components.

“He (Gamble) is a tough but fair leader, cares deeply about the industry and Ford, and has shown his commitment to his UAW colleagues,” Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford said in a statement.

Under Gamble, the union has also pushed GM and Ford to allow the UAW to represent workers at the automakers’ planned joint venture electric-battery plants. The UAW also has been critical of the U.S. automakers’ plans to boost manufacturing in Mexico, where workers are paid far less.

“He has steered the union through challenging and unprecedented times, which includes a global pandemic,” Stellantis Americas chief Mike Manley said of Gamble.

Among Gamble’s possible successors are UAW Secretary-Treasurer Ray Curry and Vice Presidents Cindy Estrada and Terry Dittes, who lead the Stellantis and GM departments, respectively. (Reporting by Shreyasee Raj in Bengaluru and Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Ramakrishnan M., Arun Koyyur and Jonathan Oatis)

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