The United Automobile Workers Union is suing General Motors, alleging a breach of labor contract related to the Lordstown plant — and others — being unallocated.
UAW alleges in its lawsuit that GM failed to comply with a Plant Closing and Sale Moratorium letter, which the UAW says prohibits the company from closing or idling any plant during the term of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
According to the lawsuit, the agreement covers October 25, 2015 through September 14, 2019.
The letter included in the lawsuit, dated October 25, 2015, indicates that the company would not close or idle plants under the agreement except if “conditions may arise that are beyond the control of the Company, (i.e. market related volume decline, act of God).”
Should it be necessary to close or idle a plant, the Company “will attempt to redeploy employees to other locations” or offer “other incentivized attrition programs,” the letter states.
The letter was written by Catherine Clegg, GM’s vice president of North American Manufacturing and Labor Relations, to Cynthia Estrada, UAW’s vice president.
In November of 2018, GM announced it will stop making the Chevy Cruze this year. It said the Lordstown plant, among others, will be “unallocated,” meaning there will be no vehicle assigned there.
UAW contends that there is no difference between “unallocating” a plant and idling or closing a plant and that characterizing the plants as “unallocated” does not relieve the company of its obligation made under the agreement.
Tuesday, UAW President Gary Jones and Vice President Terry Dittes released a statement on the lawsuit:
“For UAW members in GM Warren Transmission Operations, GM Lordstown Assembly and in the GM GPS Baltimore plant in Maryland, the UAW is determined to leave no stone unturned to make sure that their contractual rights are honored.
The UAW believes that General Motors is in breach of the 2015 Collective Bargaining terms.”
Auto Analyst John McElroy, who runs the website Autoline, said the UAW may be able to temporarily stop GM from halting production at the plants.
“But the writing is on the wall. GM has excess manufacturing capacity and needs to match capacity with demand,” he said in a statement.
UAW Local 1112 President Dave Green said it gives some hope that there is still a chance for GM Lordstown.
“I think it’s good stuff. Our international union is doing what they can to fight for our workers and their families. The corporation… they expect us to follow the agreement, and that’s why we have a national agreement and we expect the company to follow it as well,” he said.
The UAW wants to keep Lordstown open, at least until the existing agreement expires in September.
Lordstown is scheduled to close next Friday.