1758 Hayes et al. v. UAW-Chrysler Department
Case No: 1758
During the 2011 negotiations, the parties to the UAW-Chrysler National Agreement adopted a letter of understanding that replaced the previous skilled trades structure with three work groups divided into five classifications. In 2012, Chrysler gave skilled trades employees on indefinite layoff an election form providing options to those employees whose skilled trades classification had been eliminated. Option 2 on the election form provided appellants with their only opportunity to move into the newly established skilled trades structure with their original plant seniority date. The offer to transfer to one of the rationalized skilled trades classifications was a one-time opportunity that expired on March 1, 2012. By electing Option 4, appellants were effectively rejecting placement in the newly established skilled trades structure.
The consequence of declining an offer of placement in the rationalized skilled trades structure by a skilled trades employee working on a non-skilled job is the forfeiture of the employee’s skilled trades rate of pay. Appellants’ default to Option 4 might have triggered a reduction in their skilled trades rate of pay in 2012. The agreement to allow appellants to remain in their production classification at skilled trades wages was based on the fiction that they were awaiting recall to their eliminated classification. This arrangement was a benefit negotiated for appellants by the union. It was an informal agreement, however; there is no written agreement or memorandum to explain the continuation of appellants’ placement at the PDC with skilled trades wages after they chose Option 4 in 2012.
The International Union could not insist on the continuation of the arrangement made for appellants in 2012, because there was no contractual basis for it. In 2014, therefore, representatives of FCA and the UAW returned to the bargaining table and negotiated an agreement to offer placement in skilled trades jobs as J-1s to the six employees who had been assigned to production at the PDC after electing Option 4. The 2014 agreement giving appellants another chance to take advantage of Option 2 was more than reasonable. The negative consequences of appellants’ previous default to Option 4 were essentially lifted so that now the six former Twinsburg Stamping Plant employees assigned to production at the PDC could be offered placement in accordance with the terms of Letter (247) of the 2011 PMP Agreement. The reduction in appellants’ skilled trades wage rate after they declined offers to transfer in October 2014 did not deprive them of any contractual right. That reduction was always anticipated by Letter (247) for skilled trades employees declining placement in the rationalized skilled trades structure.