“Corporate America” has literally changed the social and financial landscapes in this country. In this day and age, the rich get richer and the poor tend to get poorer. Without diverting into a deep political agenda, one can still see the writing on the wall; something has to give. Large corporations, which were once the pride of capitalism in the West, are now leveraging their power at the expense of the average blue-collar American. With immense financial backing and experience in strong-arming the “little guy,” corporations sometimes overstep their bounds. Unfortunately, in many circumstances, the unsuspecting worker won’t object to having crucial benefits reduced or even eliminated. Inaction, however, is not the way to bring attention to corporate wrongdoings. Only by pointing out these unfair methods, perhaps in the form of a workers’ compensation lawsuit, can a true difference be made.
In 2011, a magistrate in Michigan declared that the General Motors Corporation had improperly reduced the workers’ compensation benefits of some of its retired employees. According to businessinsurance.com, Clifton Arbuckle had worked for GM from 1969 until his retirement in 1995. At that time, he was paid workers compensation benefits at a fixed rate of $362.78 per week.
After the market collapse in 2008, GM sought financial relief from any avenue possible. Aside from a major government bailout package, GM struck a deal with the United Auto Workers, a union formed to represent current employees in the auto manufacturing industry. Because of the alleged deal, Mr. Arbuckle’s benefits were reduced to $262.55 per week.
Angered by this sudden reduction in benefits, Mr. Arbuckle filed a lawsuit against General Motors. He won his case at the state level. He was represented by Robert J. MacDonald in the lawsuit. After GM’s appeal to the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission, the ruling was upheld. In their ruling, the three-judge panel said the union did not have the authority under federal labor law to change the collective bargaining rights of the retirees.
Mr. Arbuckle’s benefits were reinstated following the court’s ruling. He then passed away in 2014.