DETROIT -- The UAW on Tuesday said it has filed a lawsuit in federal court that accuses General Motors of breaching its 2015 collective bargaining agreement with the union.
The complaint follows GM's decision to "unallocate" product from four U.S. plants -- Lordstown Assembly in Ohio; Baltimore Operations in Maryland; and Detroit-Hamtramck and Warren Transmission in Michigan.
The union, as it has previously, is arguing that GM is in breach of contract because the company stated in 2015 that it would "not close, idle, nor partially or wholly sell, spin-off, split-off, consolidate or otherwise dispose of in any form," any plant under the four-year deal.
That statement was part of a letter included in the lawsuit from then-Vice President of North American Manufacturing and Labor Relations Cathy Clegg to UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada, who was overseeing the union's GM operations at the time.
However, that letter also states that "conditions may arise that are beyond the control of the company, (i.e. market related volume decline, act of God)" that could make that commitment "impossible."
GM, in response to the lawsuit, argued the November announcement impacting the plants did not violate the contract: "We continue to work with the UAW on solutions to our business challenges," the company said in an emailed statement. "We have no further comments at this time on the lawsuit filed by the UAW."
Detroit-Hamtramck, which was slated to end production in June, was not mentioned in the lawsuit. GM last week announced that plant would extend production until January 2020 -- giving the union a chance to better negotiate its future.
The complaint argues "unallocated" -- a term GM executives have exclusively used to discuss the potential closures of the plants -- is a synonym for "closed" or "idled," which puts the company in breach of contract.
The suit comes nearly two months after the union filed another lawsuit against the automaker regarding breach of contract about the transfer of senior employees from Lordstown Assembly to openings at its truck plant in Fort Wayne, Ind.
In a joint statement Tuesday, UAW President Gary Jones and UAW Vice President Terry Dittes, who now leads the UAW-GM Department, reiterated that the union "is determined to leave no stone unturned to make sure that their contractual rights are honored."
GM, under its contract with the UAW, must negotiate any plant closings with the union. The contract expires Sept. 14.
The UAW says it filed the suit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. It was unavailable in the federal court system, but the union posted a copy of the complaint on its website.