A respected accountant is being tapped as the next president of the United Auto Workers union.

Gary Jones of O’Fallon, Mo., is in line to succeed Williams, due to retire next June. Members of the largest and most powerful UAW caucus have described Jones as a steady hand who can effectively navigate the organization through times of change and uncertainty. 

Rank-and-file members will vote at the UAW's Constitution Convention next summer. While other members can run for president or vice president, the chosen slate likely will lead the union for the next several years.

Jones, 60, is a regional director who oversees Missouri, Texas, Louisiana and the West Coast. He was considered the front-runner to succeed Williams going into this week's weeks leadership caucus.

An accountant by training, he started with the UAW at the Ford plant in Broken Arrow, Ala. More recently, he has served as the union’s top non-elected finance person for nearly a decade.

 Union leaders from around the country flew into Detroit this week to elect what’s known as “The Reuther Caucus” slate at the national headquarters, Solidarity House, in Detroit.

The caucus is considered the most powerful group in the organization. It routinely forecasts the winners elected at the annual Constitutional Convention in June.

The UAW represents more than 415,000 automotive workers, poker dealers, college teachers, agricultural equipment manufacturers, and aerospace engineers.

While that is less than one-third of its peak of more than 1.5 million members in the late 1970's, the UAW has seen increased membership over the past seven years, helped by organizing drives outside the traditional automotive industry.

The UAW represents about 59,000 Ford workers, 49,500 GM workers and 41,000 Fiat Chrysler workers.

In July, just weeks before a scheduled union vote at the Nissan plant in Mississippi, federal investigators indicted Al Iacobelli, former Fiat Chrysler vice president of labor relations, and Monica Morgan, widow of General Holiefield, former UAW vice president.

Millions of dollars earmarked for UAW worker training was spent on unauthorized purchases including a $365,000 red Ferrari, two solid gold fountain pens valued at $35,700, a pool and outdoor spa at Iacobelli's mansion.

Iacobelli abruptly retired in 2015 prior to the start of contract negotiations. Investigators say Holiefield, who died in March 2015 from pancreatic cancer, and Morgan skimmed more than $1 million.

Now Daniel Lemisch, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, has expanded the probe to look at evidence of similar misuse of joint training funds at the UAW's programs with Ford and General Motors.

The UAW says it is fully cooperating with the FBI in the training money investigation.