Temporary workers file suit against UAW

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the United Auto Workers discuss their case with their lawyer at his Grand Rapids office. (April 16, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan labor activist is taking on the cause of some United Auto Workers members who say the union let them down.

Labor Activist Pat Meyer of Muskegon filed a lawsuit against the UAW last May. She’s not a lawyer and the union tried to get the case tossed out because of mistakes in the paperwork. Now, she and the workers have an attorney and the suit is on.

Some of the UAW members named as plaintiffs in the suit and Meyer met with their lawyer in his Grand Rapids office Wednesday. The employees all worked for ACH, a parts supplier near Ann Arbor that used to be owned by Ford Motor Co.

“ACH workers were not given equal status to other Ford workers and in some cases have not been to this day,” attorney Jonathan Browning said.

He said the union allowed the company to treat the workers differently, costing them money, promotions and benefits.

“I just think it’s totally wrong what they’re doing. The UAW just stabbed us all in the back,” said UAW member Linda Bouchard.

The plaintiffs were hired as temporary workers and were paid less than other union members.

“These workers were not paid anywhere near what Ford workers would normally get paid in this situation,” Browning said. “We’re talking about $1o, $11 per hour as opposed to, say, $16 or higher than that.”

They claim they were promised first shot at permanent Ford jobs and that their seniority from the parts supply job would carry over. But, they said, it didn’t.

“They took my seniority when I went to Flat Rock. They took 5 1/2 years of my seniority,” said UAW member Candace Escott.

“What our beef is essentially is that the UAW allowed this all to happen,” Browning said.

The plaintiffs are seeking to regain their, as well as other benefits and pay they may have lost.

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