Workers file lawsuit over GM tier system

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A deal that General Motors made in 2008 with its workers involving a two-tier wage scale is going before a judge.

General Motors negotiated the two-tier wage structure that allowed for some workers to be paid nearly half of what more senior workers made doing the same job. A federal judge is hearing arguments from some workers who say they shouldn’t be in that lower pay bracket.

The lawsuit covers a series of events at the Lordstown assembly plant. In 2007, a group of 28 temporary workers were laid off and then rehired a few months later. They were getting paid close to the full rate of nearly $30 per hour.

In 2008, the new two-tier wage structure was put in place. The lawsuit says the workers were forced to agree to take $14 per hour or lose their jobs.

The workers have two main points in their argument: GM violated their contract when they were rehired and the union failed to protect them.

The workers also say the union conspired with GM to hire Delphi employees. The former Delphi employees jumped over the Lordstown temporary workers in seniority. They were also given full-rate permanent jobs after the Lordstown employees had been forced into a lower classification.

The lawsuit was filed in 2011, after the UAW refused to file a grievance on the workers’ behalf.

The workers are seeking nearly $3 million in back pay.

District Justice Benita Pearson heard arguments from all three parties on Friday.

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