I) Adequate Notice of Settlement of Class Action
Did you receive notice of the class action taken by the UAW? In other words, did the UAW ask all retirees if they wanted to be a member of the class action before the class was established?
Timely and appropriate notice to absent members or those who do (did) not appear before the court is required by the claimants in order for the class to be considered a class. UAW failed to contact all GM retirees before filing the lawsuit. According to courts’ decisions, sufficient notice of all class members is required. If not the results could be the information presented to the court can be misleading and could omit certain information to retirees who were not included in the establishment of the retirees’ class. Furthermore, it would not allow retirees who did not participate in the establishment of the class opportunity to address concerns and have those concerns addressed in the lawsuit. If you are a retiree and you did not receive notice or feel, your concerns have not been addressed by the UAW/GM lawsuit or in the Settlement Agreement and by their counsels, then you need to file an Objection and join Mr. McKnight by contacting his attorney.
Mr. McKnight did attend the hearings that established the class and he was not allowed to address the court even though he had retained counsel.
II) Inadequate Counsel During Negotiations
The December 22, 2005 litigation represented three parties, 1) General Motors Corporation. 2) Employees of GM represented by the UAW. 3) and GM retirees. A settlement agreement was reached in October of 2005, which led to the MOU. However, the negotiations were between GM and Current employees (UAW). According to Mr. Baumkel there was no evidence in thousands of documents filed to date that shows the Legal counsels hired to represent GM and UAW’s newly negotiated Settlement Agreement or MOU ever participated in the negotiations between GM and UAW. Nor did they accomplish one cent in improvement in benefits for the retirees during negotiations or afterwards.
GM and the UAW, who had conflicting interest in the lawsuit secured the counsel for the retirees. Therefore, the counsels were hired for the sole purpose of expediting a DEAL already made between those conflicting parties, GM and UAW. What is more, General Motors Corporation will pay the counsel’s legal fees. All of this was done to circumvent the initial purpose of the lawsuit that was to find out if GM was legally obligated to reframe from altering retiree’s healthcare benefits unilaterally. Mr. Baumkel wrote “The record reflects that the only role of the Class Representatives and Class Counsel was an after the fact, rush review of documents.” Furthermore, the retirees were not offered the option of not participating in the lawsuit or negotiations.
Therefore, if you are a GM retiree and you fit in the picture drawn above then you need to file an Objection and join Mr. McKnight’s lawsuit by contacting his attorney!
III) Whipsawing and Dividing Members
Were the UAW/GM negotiations, discriminatory in nature? Did they represent the needs of all UAW members, current employees and retirees alike? NO! Since counsel for the retirees’ class participated after the Settlement Agreement was reached the proposed agreement favors present active employees who VOTED at the expense of the retirees, who did not get to VOTE! The UAW can only represent active employees who are the only members who can legally vote to ratify contracts. Therefore, the results of the Settlement Agreement only represents the fact that there was no undertaking of a meaningful adversarial fight to retain retirees rights to benefits! Unions can only represent the interest of current employees which is up held by the U. S. Supreme Court:
“Pensioners’ interests extend only to retirement benefits, to the exclusion of wage rates, hours, working conditions and all other forms of active employment. Incorporation of such a limited-purpose constituency in the bargaining unit would create the potential for severe internal conflicts that would impair the units ability to function and would disrupt the processes of collective bargaining. Moreover, the risk cannot be overlooked that union representatives might see fit to bargain for improved wages or other conditions favoring active employees at the expense of retirees’ benefits. (emphasis added).”
Again if you are a GM retiree and feel discriminated against by the methods used by the UAW and GM or because of the settlement agreement and/or because you did not get to vote on the MOU and you agree with the statements above then you should file a “Objection!” or join Mr. McKnight by contacting his attorney.