An appeals court has reversed an earlier ruling allowing General Motors to decrease the work injury benefits it was giving to a retiree who was hurt while on the job. The Michigan Court of Appeals said that UAW, the union for America’s autoworkers, lacked the authority to vote to modify collective bargaining for workers who had already retired. The court noted that there was no evidence showing that the plaintiff gave the union the authority to represent him to change the agreement that he retired under.
Some 1800 GM retirees saw a reduction in their benefits in 2010 because of a law, passed in the 90’s, which let companies reduce workers’ compensation checks by how much they were getting in their disability pension. For a long time GM and UAW agreed they would not reduce the checks until workers had turned at least 65. However, in the wake of GM’s financial problems, a deal was struck in 2009 between the union and the automaker to make cuts to workers’ compensation benefits.
Clifton Arbuckle, whose estate is this case’s plaintiff, was making 80% of his wages—$362.78/a week, for work injuries he sustained in 1991. Following 2009, however, and after looking at his disability retirement benefits, social security disability insurance benefits, and workers’ compensation, GM lowered his work injury benefits to $262.55 a week.
The plaintiff challenged UAW’s authority to make changes on Arbuckle’s behalf and for other retirees, noting that workers who have already retired are not allowed to vote for the union. Arbuckle’s legal team also noted that Social Security disability payments couldn’t be used to lower workers’ compensation benefits.
GM intends to appeal.
As a worker who was hurt or fell ill from your job, you have certain rights and benefits that you are owed. Unfortunately, employers and their insurers have been known to reduce Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits, deny them completely, or opt to pay less than what an employee is entitled.
Hiring a Boston workers’ compensation lawyer can help ensure that your rights are protected and that you and your family receive all of the work injury benefits that you are owed and in a timely manner.
GM Called Out in Retiree Workers’ Compensation Case, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, February 18, 2015
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Workers’ Compensation Reforms are Hurting Injured Workers, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, March 7, 2015
Snow, Ice on Roofs Lead to Massachusetts Workers Injuries, Deaths, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, February 27, 2015
Jockey Files Boston Injury Lawsuit Against Suffolk Downs After Sustaining Horse Race Injuries, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, December 29, 2014