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Auto Workers' Union Sues GM To Keep Three Plants Open

2/26/2019, 3:47 p.m.
The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of Ohio, asks the court to order GM to reverse its decision to ...
The United Auto Workers union sued General Motors on Tuesday, claiming the company's plan to shutter three auto plants violates the union's labor contract. Bloomberg/Getty Images

— The United Auto Workers union sued General Motors on Tuesday, claiming the company's plan to shutter three auto plants violates the union's labor contract.

The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of Ohio, asks the court to order GM to reverse its decision to close plants in Baltimore; Lordstown, Ohio; and Warren, Michigan. It also seeks damages for affected employees, including back wages and benefits.

The UAW says the closings breach a 2015 labor agreement that "prohibits the Company from closing or idling any plant during the term of the Collective Bargaining Agreement."

GM, along with Ford and Fiat Chrysler, has contracts with the UAW that are set to expire in September.

The Lordstown plant is scheduled to close next week and the other two plants are set to do the same in coming months.

GM said in a statement that the company is not in violation of its labor contract with the union.

"The announcements made by General Motors on November 26 do not violate the provisions of the UAW-GM National Agreement. We continue to work with the UAW on solutions to our business challenges," the statement said.

GM announced a major restructuring in November, including the closure of five plants in North America and the reduction of its salaried workforce by 15%. GM laid off 8,000 salaried workers, and 6,000 hourly workers will either lose their jobs or be reassigned to other plants.

The company has found new jobs for many of the workers at soon-to-close auto plants. Last week, GM said it would delay the closure of its Hamtramck, Michigan, plant until January 2020. It was scheduled to close in June.

Relocated workers will be given opportunities to work in Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana. Workers at the Baltimore and Warren transmission facilities will be offered transfer opportunities closer to the shutdown of their plants, GM said.

GM's new motto is "Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions, Zero Congestion," as it shifts to self-driving, electric vehicles. But the restructuring is also about making cars that people currently want. Customers are increasingly shunning sedans in favor of SUVs and hatchbacks.

The company said the restructuring would make it more efficient, saving $6 billion a year by the end of 2020. GM said its slimmed-down production plan would allow it to share technology across all of its vehicles and reduce the amount of time and workers it takes to build cars.

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