250 Drivers Suing Over Fraudulent Buyout Packages

Drivers Suing The Union

Drivers Suing The UnionLast week, more than 250 former ACC truck drivers filed a lawsuit claiming they were pressured into signing a fraudulent 2009 buyout package that was negotiated by UAW Local 659, Michigan Live reported.

ACC, formerly known as North American Operations and owned by General Motors, is a Michigan-based carrier that has terminals throughout Michigan.  ACC is a GM supplier and ships parts to GM factories.  In 1996, the carrier was sold to Roger Penske.  Penske changed the company name from North American Operations to ACC.

The truck drivers and their attorney Kenneth Myer claim that in the 1996 purchase agreement, the language in the contract of the sale provided that drivers had the right to return to work at any GM facility should unforseen actions threaten the operations of ACC.

In 2009, the truck drivers were asked by union representatives to approve a buyout package. At the time, GM had entered into bankruptcy and ACC’s future was uncertain.

“If plaintiffs had understood that they had guaranteed jobs and benefits with GM pursuant to the 1996 agreement, which was still in effect at the time of the 2009 ratification vote, they would not have voted for the new agreement that stripped them of those right,” the lawsuit states.

“The lawsuit contends that union officials told the workers that the plant’s closing was imminent and that if they didn’t sign the agreement they would get nothing and be out of work within 48 hours,” Michigan Live reported.

253 drivers accepted the buyout package which included a $25,000 vehicle voucher and $20,000 cash or $45,000 cash for skilled trades, voluntarily quit and the workers would receive a $25,000 vehicle voucher and $45,000 cash.  The workers were also offered a buyout package that includes $20,000 cash and a $25,000 vehicle voucher and have their wages and benefits reduced.

The drivers’ attorney claims that union members didn’t reveal a $140,000 buyout option and once drivers decided on a package, they were not allowed to rescind their decision.

“[The union’s] job is to advocate for their members,” Myers told Michigan Live.

Mark Lawler is one of the drivers who accepted the buy-out package.  He said it has been difficult for many of the drivers.  Many have lost their homes, their marriages and their health, he said.

The drivers listed in the lawsuit are seeking a combination of money, seniority and benefits.