Workers’ suit against UAW goes forward
By Burton Speakman
A federal court judge has denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit that was filed by 28 workers at the Lordstown General Motors plant against United Auto Workers Local 1112.
The case, Mark Dragomier et al. v. International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America, Local 1112, is the result of 28 GM Lordstown employees’ alleging GM and the unions violated the collective- bargaining agreement. Those filing the suit seek more than $3 million in back pay.
The union had asked for a summary judgment dismissing the lawsuit based on two factors: The complaints not being within the statute of limitations and the plaintiffs have not exhausted their internal appeals process. U.S. District Judge Benita Y. Pearson denied those claims and has allowed the suit to go forward. The suit was initially filed April 30, 2011.
The suit contends 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 then terminated in April 2007, and rehired seven months later as permanent employees with seniority, according to the lawsuit.
In June 2008, they were forced to recategorize as temporary employees or be terminated immediately, all while taking pay cuts of more than 40 percent.
One of the plaintiffs, Mark Dragomier, along with a number of employees that remains under dispute, requested that Ben Strickland, union shop chairman, file a grievance on their behalf. Strickland, according to the lawsuit, declined to file the grievance.
The suit further claims that the employees were fired for a noneconomic reason, which is not allowed under the contract; GM stated the employees were let go “in response to changed business needs at the Lordstown plant.”
Attorney Ken Myers, who is representing the workers, said in a previous story the plaintiffs’ pay would increase when GM hired a third shift.
Days after being rehired, the union and GM entered an agreement called Special Employee Hiring Opportunities where former Delphi employees could be hired. According to the court filing, this violated the contract because the Delphi employees made more money than the plaintiffs.
The 28 workers are seeking pack pay and permanent positions with proper pay and benefits, according to the suit.
Tom Mock, communications manager for GM in Lordstown and Parma, said he could not comment on the suit. Glenn Johnson, president of UAW 1112, also declined to comment.