YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (CN) – General Motors has breached a labor contract by continuing to employ temporary workers at its Indiana auto factory instead of laid-off unionized workers from an Ohio plant, their labor union claims in court.
In the complaint against GM filed Wednesday in Youngstown, Ohio, federal court, United Automobile Workers said that in August it had approved the automaker’s decision to hire temporary workers at its Fort Wayne plant to ready for the launch of new pickup trucks.
But UAW claims that under a national collective-bargaining agreement that will expire this year, GM is supposed to employ eligible laid-off senior workers instead of temporary employees. Some of the 690 laid-off workers from the Lordstown, Ohio, auto factory have applied to relocate and work at the plant, according to the lawsuit.
The union says it agreed to an extension that would allow the temporary workers to remain at the plant until Nov. 30, 2018. GM had asked the union to let them stay until May 2019, but UAW refused and reminded the company that it did not have its blessing to keep the temporary workers at the plant beyond Nov. 30.
“Nevertheless, the company continues to employ the temporary group instead of transferring seniority employees to Fort Wayne Assembly,” the 8-page complaint states.
UAW is represented by attorney Joyce Goldstein of Goldstein Gragel.
The union wants the court to order GM to terminate the temporary workers’ contracts and transfer laid-off seniority workers to the plant. It also seeks lost wages, benefits, relocation allowances, and seniority credit.
“UAW members negotiated a binding agreement and we expect General Motors to follow the contract they agreed to and GM members ratified,” UAW Vice President Terry Dittes said in a prepared statement.
Union spokesman Brian Rothenberg declined to comment further Thursday, citing the volume of inquiries the union had received.
GM spokesman David Caldwell said Thursday that temporary workers had been brought in to work on the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. He noted in an email that the automaker had “started the process” to bring 50 laid-off workers to the plant.
“About 35 Lordstown UAW members will be in place by the end of January. We have ongoing discussions with the UAW regarding our staffing needs in Fort Wayne, but have no further comments on the lawsuit,” Caldwell wrote in the statement.
In late November, GM announced that it was idling plants in Baltimore, Warren and Detroit-Hamtramck in Michigan, and Lordstown.
Another GM spokesperson, Kim Carpenter, said Thursday that more than 1,100 employees in the United States have volunteered to relocate to other plants.