Auto workers sue General Motors over plant closures

By AutoFOXBusiness

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The labor union for U.S. auto workers on Tuesday argued in a new lawsuit that General Motor’s plans to shutter several North American plants is in violation of a 2015 labor agreement.

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The legal challenge from the United Automobile Workers comes as the Detroit-based carmaker also faces federal scrutiny over its decision to close facilities in Ohio and Maryland, which it says will better align operations with a focus on trucks, sports utility vehicles and electric cars.

The plan doesn't "violate the provisions of the UAW-GM National Agreement. We continue to work with the UAW on solutions to our business challenges. We have no further comments at this time on the lawsuit,” a GM spokesman said in a statement.

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In total, GM is laying off 14,000 workers in the U.S., but the company says employees at the affected plants would be offered positions to fill the 1,000 vacancies at its Michigan factory.

Employees, however, say certain facilities will be favored over others based upon contracts with the UAW. A GM spokesman did not respond to Fox Business’ inquiries on which employees would be offered positions first.

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In defense of the strategy, CEO Mary Barra said it will ensure the company is “around for the next several decades.”

“We understand that this is a very difficult time, it’s a very difficult announcement to make,” she said in December. “We’re really focused on making sure [lawmakers] understand the situation.”

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Elected officials who have been vocal critics of GM’s plan -- including Ohio Sens. Rob Portman, a Republican, and Sherrod Brown, a Democrat – did not immediately respond to request for comment on the UAW’s lawsuit.

"We remain frustrated with GM’s handling of this decision and disappointed with how the hardworking employees, who by sweat and toil have made GM what it is today, have been treated throughout this process," Portman and Brown wrote in a Fox Business op-ed in December. "They deserve the chance to continue making cars in the community many of them have called home for their entire lives, and to be treated with the respect and dignity they have earned through the region’s decades-long commitment to GM."