UAW Slaps GM With Lawsuit Over Plant Closures

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
uaw slaps gm with lawsuit over plant closures

Canada’s autoworker union Unifor brought out the guy from Dune to protest a General Motors plant closure, but UAW went a few steps further. The American auto union hit GM with a lawsuit Tuesday, claiming the company’s decision to shutter three plants violates its 2015 collective bargaining agreement.

However, GM may have an out.

In a statement posted this morning, UAW President Gary Jones and VP Terry Dittes said, “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,” the two execs claimed. The UAW also provided a link to the lawsuit accusing GM of breach of contract.

Contained within that suit is a letter agreement signed by GM that states the company would “not close, idle, nor partially or wholly sell, spin-off, split-off, consolidate or otherwise dispose of in any form, any plant, asset, or business unit of any type” during the contract’s four-year term. UAW argues that the looming “unallocated” status of the three plants constitutes idling. Thus, GM broke its promise.

(Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly isn’t included in the suit, as GM announced late last week its intention to keep the plant open until January 2020.)

While it would appear that UAW has the automaker over a legal barrel, the same letter contains ammunition for GM. A caveat to the previous quoted statement states, “In making this commitment, it is understood that conditions may arise that are beyond the control of the Company, (i.e. market related volume decline, act of God), and could make compliance with this commitment impossible.”

It will be GM’s task to prove to a judge that it needed to stop building the Chevrolet Cruze and various Michigan and Maryland components before the (Sept. 14th) expiration of its labor agreement. True, Lordstown wasn’t a busy place. The plant, which goes dark on March 8th, went from three shifts to two, and then to one, in recent years, with significant amounts of downtime — a symptom of the public’s move away from passenger cars. Demand hadn’t dropped to zero, however.

In an emailed statement to Automotive News, GM claimed it did not breach the contract.

“We continue to work with the UAW on solutions to our business challenges,” the automaker said. “We have no further comments at this time on the lawsuit filed by the UAW.”

[Image: General Motors]

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3 of 17 comments
  • Buickman Buickman on Feb 27, 2019

    drop to one model Cruze, make Cruise standard (imagine) make three trim levels and only offer three colors, red, white, and blue. the tooling is paid for, eliminate incentives and reduce price $2500. change the marketing and we'll need two shifts.

  • Dusterdude Dusterdude on Feb 27, 2019

    Good for the UAW. (seriously). I am not a union member, and never have been in my career to date (over 3 decades in working world) Someone needs to get GM's attention. When they are sourcing more to Mexico ($4 / hour) and China (

    • NormSV650 NormSV650 on Feb 28, 2019

      "American automakers pay Mexican workers $8 to $10 per hour, including benefits..." Reuters

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  • Styles I had a PHEV, and used to charge at home on a standard 3-pin plug (240v is standard here in NZ). As my vehicle is a company car I could claim the expense. Now we are between houses and living at the in-laws, and I'm driving a BEV, I'm charging either at work (we have a wall-box, and I'm the only one with an EV), or occasionally at Chargenet stations, again, paid by my employer.
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