Autoworkers Sue The UAW 

March 8 2001

 Union Workers Get OK for GM/UAW Suit 

 DETROIT (AP) - More than 140 United Auto Workers members may proceed with their lawsuit against their union and General Motors Corp. over claims that  a 1997 strike against the automaker was needlessly prolonged, a federal  judge has ruled. 
 The $550 million suit by the 142 workers claims union leaders demanded  jobs for relatives and improper overtime payments for ending the 87-day strike  at GM's Pontiac truck plants. 
 The lawsuit also accuses GM of going along with the alleged scheme related to the strike, which the suit alleges cost the average worker $10,000 to $20,000. 
  GM, the UAW and its Local 594 had sought to have the lawsuit thrown out by  U.S. District Judge Paul Gadola, who on Wednesday denied those requests. 
 Now, the workers' attorney, Harold Dunne, can take depositions and  internal documents from GM, the international union and the local. 
 "It's a very important victory for us because we are now able to get to all  of the documents to prove our case," Dunne told the Detroit Free Press.  "That's what this whole thing was about." 
  Gadola agreed to drop defendants Gordon Campbell and Todd Fante from the lawsuit, ruling that as individuals they were not liable for damages. 
 The suit said Campbell, son of Local 594's bargaining committee chairman in 1997, and Fante, the son of a close friend of a UAW international representative, were not qualified and got jobs after the strike because of their connections. 
 Dunne said he now will ask Gadola to give the lawsuit class-action status.  The plant has 6,000 workers. 
  The lawsuit alleges fraud, collusion and extortion over alleged  GM-accepted  demands by Local 594. Among other things, the suit says the UAW and GM breached their contract and duty, that Local 594 did not fairly represent its members. 
 GM has said it believes the suit will be dismissed. 
  "Our position is that the courtroom is not the forum to discuss differences 
 with how labor negotiations went," Andrew Kramer, a lawyer with a  Washington, D.C., firm representing GM, said last month. 
 Federal investigators also are looking into circumstances surrounding the strike.