|Autoworkers Sue The UAW
March 8 2001
from EXCITE.COM NEWS :
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
Federal investigators also are looking into circumstances
surrounding the strike.