February 26, 2019 / 3:37 PM / 3 months ago

UAW sues GM over decision to end production at U.S. plants

(Reuters) - The United Auto Workers union on Tuesday filed suit against General Motors Co over its decision to end production and eliminate thousands of jobs at three U.S. auto plants, saying it violated a 2015 collective bargaining agreement.

New vehicles sit in a parking lot at the General Motors Lordstown Complex, assembly plant in Warren, Ohio, U.S., November 26, 2018. REUTERS/Alan Freed

In the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Ohio, the UAW asked a federal judge to order GM to rescind its November decision to close three plants in Michigan, Ohio and Maryland, and award damages to employees for losses from what the UAW calls GM’s breach of contract.

GM said in a statement that its decisions to halt production “do not violate the provisions of the UAW-GM National Agreement. We continue to work with the UAW on solutions to our business challenges.”

GM said in November it was cutting up to 15,000 jobs and ending production at five plants in North America, including one in Canada.

On Friday, GM said it had extended the production at its Detroit Hamtramck plant until January 2020, after earlier saying it planned to discontinue production in June. The suit does not cover GM’s Detroit Hamtramck plant because it will remain operational beyond the current contract’s September 2019 expiration.

The job cuts have angered U.S. President Donald Trump, who has demanded GM find a replacement product for its Lordstown plant and threatened to cut GM subsidies.

The No.1 U.S. automaker is revamping its operations as it looks to boost profitability after U.S. auto sales declined.

The UAW said GM plans to end production at its Lordstown, Ohio assembly plant on March 8. It will also end production at its White Marsh plant in Maryland on May 3 and at its Warren Transmission on August 1.

Some suppliers have announced job cuts as a result of the end of production, while GM has said it is offering UAW workers jobs at other plants.

A company that provides janitorial and other services at the Ohio plant said it is cutting 73 jobs next month. Two other suppliers said earlier they are cutting 300 jobs that supported the Ohio plant operations.

GM chief executive Mary Barra has said the fate of the U.S. plants will be determined in contract talks with the UAW this summer.

In January, the UAW sued GM, claiming the automaker’s use of temporary workers at a plant in Indiana violates its labor deal. A March 8 hearing is set in that suit.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Meredith Mazzilli

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