‘Big fight’ expected as GM suit heads to court
By Karl Henkel
Twenty-eight General Motors Lordstown workers will begin court proceedings Wednesday stemming from an April 30 lawsuit.
The workers, represented by Atty. Ken Myers of Cleveland, allege that GM violated the collective-bargaining agreement, resulting in loss of pay and seniority, and the United Auto Workers violated its duty to fairly represent its members.
GM’s lawyers declined to comment on the case.
A case-management conference will take place at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Thomas D. Lambros Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse here.
Case-management conferences occur at the beginning of court cases; both parties meet with Judge Benita Y. Pearson. Dates and times will then be scheduled for future proceedings.
The suit says GM first violated the collective-bargaining agreement when it extended the workers’ temporary status, which began in 2006, without proper approval.
The 28 employees were fired in April 2007, then rehired seven months later as permanent employees with seniority, the suit says.
But in June 2008, the suit says, they were forced to recategorize by GM as temporary employees or be fired immediately, all while taking pay cuts of more than 40 percent.
Myers said the plaintiffs’ pay would increase when GM hired a third shift, which it did last year.
Just days later, the union and GM entered an agreement called Special Employee Hiring Opportunities. Former Delphi employees could be hired, and according to the suit, this violated the contract because they made more money than the plaintiffs.
The union did not investigate, the plaintiffs did not receive pay raises when GM hired a third shift, and the union refused to file grievances, the suit says.
The 28 workers are seeking back pay and permanent positions with proper pay and benefits. Myers said all 28, to his knowledge, still work at the Lordstown plant.
“I expect a big fight, and we’re going to handle it,” Myers said. “I’m confident in the case, and I’m looking forward to getting to the process.”