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Auto union sues General Motors over breach of contract

The United Auto Workers union sued General Motors Co. over a breach of a labor contract relating to the rights of certain employees who were laid off.

The lawsuit, filed Jan. 2 in a U.S. District Court in Ohio, states that GM has laid off 1,000 employees nationwide, including 690 employees from the Lordstown, Ohio, Assembly plant, that are eligible to transfer to plants with openings. Many of the employees have applied to transfer to openings at the company's Fort Wayne, Ind., assembly plant, according to court documents.

However, the UAW charged in the complaint that the automaker has failed to "honor its obligation" to employees with seniority, instead using temporary employees at the Fort Wayne Assembly plant.

"UAW members negotiated a binding agreement and we expect General Motors to follow the contract they agreed to and GM members ratified," Terry Dittes, UAW vice president, director GM Department, said in a statement.

A General Motors spokesperson told S&P Global Market Intelligence that the company started the process to bring about 50 Lordstown plant employees to the Fort Wayne plant in late 2018 to fill some of the positions that had been covered by temporary employees.

"We have ongoing discussions with the [United Auto Workers union] regarding our staffing needs in Fort Wayne, but have no further comments on the lawsuit," the spokesperson added.

In November 2018, the company announced plans to close plants in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland as well as one in Canada.

The automaker has since drawn criticism from U.S. President Donald Trump and lawmakers in Ohio and Michigan over the decision.