Cases & Deals

GM wins Sixth Circuit appeal affirming dismissal of all claims alleging breaches of collective bargaining agreement

Client(s) General Motors LLC

In 2007, Jones Day client General Motors Corporation and the International UAW negotiated a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). To achieve necessary cost savings for the Company, the parties agreed for the first time that UAW-represented employees would be subject to different levels, or tiers, of wages. Beginning in summer 2008, the Company began to hire the first employees at lower wage levels, including some employees at the Lordstown Assembly plant. Following their hire, a group of 28 lower waged employees of General Motors LLC (GM) at the Lordstown Assembly plant brought numerous claims against GM and their local union and the UAW, objecting to their classification and pay. This was the first legal challenge to the new tiered wage structure. After extensive discovery (including depositions of the lead negotiators for the Company and the UAW on this groundbreaking issue), all parties moved for summary judgment. On October 31, 2014, the district court issued a 46-page opinion finding that each of the nine alleged breaches of contract failed as a matter of law, and that the unions did not breach their duty of fair representation. Plaintiffs appealed, and on September 18, 2015, the Sixth Circuit affirmed. The appellate court again rejected the challenge to this new wage system, finding that the plaintiffs' claims failed where GM applied (and the UAW refused to file a grievance over) the terms of these new wage agreements.

Dragomier v. International Union United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, Local 1112, Case No. 4:11-cv-00862 (N.D. Ohio); Case No. 14-4194 (6th Cir.)