Employees’ suit against GM, UAW going forward

LORDSTOWN – A federal lawsuit in which a group of General Motors employees here is suing the company, United Auto Workers and the union Local 1112 will go forward after a judge last week refused to dismiss the case.

The UAW in April had filed a motion asking the judge to dismiss the case arguing that legally too much time had passed since the alleged incident and that all but four of the plaintiffs had failed to exhaust internal union appeals processes.

The 28 Lordstown plant workers had filed the suit in April 2011 alleging they were improperly classified as temporary employees in 2006 and 2007 and argue they were improperly terminated in April 2007. The group is arguing the company breached their collective bargaining agreement by denying them full pay and benefits and the union breached its duty of fair representation by not fighting on their behalf.

The workers are seeking back pay of between $3 million and $4 million.

According to the lawsuit brought by Mark Dragomier and 27 other workers, they were initially hired in October 2006. They were terminated in April 2007 and then brought back six months later. The workers were briefly paid the same wage as permanent employees, but the lawsuit argues they were reclassified as temporary workers in June 2008, a move that cut their pay by more than 40 percent.

In court documents, the defendants have denied all the allegations.

At the time of the alleged infraction, the GM Lordstown complex manufactured the Chevy Cobalt.

In court documents filed in April, Ben Strickland, Shop Chairman for the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, Local 1112, maintains that during a March 2009 general membership union meeting where Dragomier and other plaintiffs were in attendance, Strickland advised the membership that he would not file Dragomier’s requested grievance because there was no violation of the collective bargaining agreement.

Northern District of Ohio U.S. District Court Judge Benita Y. Pearson on Saturday filed a ruling denying the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, meaning the case will continue.

Tom Mock, communications manager for the Lordstown plant, which now makes the Chevrolet Cruze small car, declined to comment on the lawsuit. UAW Local 1112 president Glenn Johnson also declined to comment.