YOUNGSTOWN - Lordstown Complex hourly workers suing General Motors LLC, along with their local and international union, must leap some hurdles that even their attorney found daunting.
"You have to be an expert in contract language to avoid all the land mines," Kenneth D. Myers said after a case management conference Wednesday in the Thomas D. Lambros Federal Building in downtown Youngstown.
Ben Strickland, shop chairman of United Auto Workers Local 1112 at the auto assembly plant, and Dennis Haines, the local's attorney, declined to give details of the conference.
"We scheduled some things. There wasn't much beyond that," Haines said.
Myers said one of the hurdles that arose during the conference was how many of the 28 workers will be allowed in the civil lawsuit before Judge Benita Y. Pearson.
The Cleveland lawyer said the apparent lack of documents and records complicates his efforts to keep all 28 in the suit.
He said the union attorney said a hearing before the UAW International's Public Review Board on Jan. 24, 2011, may not have been recorded or transcribed.
Only four workers were listed as having appealed to the review board, but Myers said he argued the four were representing a total of 35 at the time.
"The irony is you'd think that GM and the UAW would keep better records," he said. "I hope transcripts exist. If not, things got a little murky. Right now, murky works for the union."
The suit alleges a tangled sequence of labor contract violations dating back to 2006 that includes the implementation of a two-tier wage system that paid new workers about $14 an hour instead of the traditional $28, although the plaintiffs made $24 an hour for a while.
The hiring of 298 workers cut from auto parts supplier Delphi Packard Electrical / Electronic Architecture during the parent company's bankruptcy complicated matters.
The Delphi workers jumped over the newer Lordstown workers at the full $28 hourly rate, Lordstown resident Mark Dragomier said.
Myers said the schedule has GM and the UAW sending him a list of issues by Feb. 8. He then will send the defendants by Feb. 17 a list of documents he wants. They have 30 days to produce the documents, he said.
A telephone conference is scheduled with Pearson on April 2 to discuss if Myers needs to take testimony under oath from anyone.
The defendants have to file a motion by April 20 to cut the plaintiffs to four, after which he has 30 days to respond, Myers said.
"Some portion of the case will go forward. I hope it can continue with all 28," he said.