From the Labor Commission of the CPUSA, updates, information, news, analysis, and organizing materials in solidarity with workers of the world.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

American Axle Strike Update

American Axle strikers solid

Article and photo by John Rummel

Inside UAW Local 235 in Hamtramck, across the street from the largest of the struck American Axle plants, Ray Wood, President of UAW Local 14 at the GM powertrain in Toledo was speaking to Local President Adrian King and Vice President Bill Alford. “Whatever you need….we’re only an hour away, when they mess with one, they mess with all of us, we’re family.” Wood had just traveled up from Toledo and his local had brought a bus and car caravan of union members to walk the picket lines.

Wood said the Toledo local is in local negotiations (those taking place following last fall’s national contract) and told King and Alford “solidarity, that’s what it’s all about” We’re going to be there for the long haul as well.”

“That’s a war wound, brother,” said Wood while looking at the large cast on Alford’s leg and ankle, both broken while falling on the ice picketers have had to deal with through much of this strike.

Alford said people are coming out of the woodwork to offer support. This coming Monday, UAW local 412 from nearby Warren is sponsoring a solidarity rally and BBQ lunch for strikers. King and Alford said locals from GM, Chrysler and Ford are bringing everything from pizza, pop, and chips to a dump truck of wood to keep the barrel fires going on the picket line. The local Subway’s donated party trays but Alford said there’s still no Hamtramck Polish sausage – made locally and some of the best in the country – hint! hint!

One step inside the local hall or a walk outside on the picket line quickly shows the determination of the strikers. Morale of members is high, said Alford. They show up on time for picket duty and do not miss their four hour shifts. Some do eight or more, coming in every day. Older guys who have been here 30, 40 years are still coming in here to walk the line, said Alford.

President King said the local is taking steps to help workers who may be having financial problems. One UAW local will be holding workshops to help people with mortgage or credit problems. A welfare rights organization has offered assistance to those needing help with utility payments. The union is identifying couples where both work at the plant and may be in need of special help and are beginning to find locals who will sign up for an “adopt a worker program” for strikers who are having financial problems. This is the solidarity that makes victories possible.

Now in its fourth week, with 29 General Motors plants all or partially shut down and 40,000 workers being affected, the pressure mounts on American Axle to negotiate in a straight forward manner with its 3,650 striking auto workers. Although making over $37 million in profits last year, American Axle is still seeking huge wage and benefit cuts. American Axle’s chief executive, Dick Dauch, has set up eight non-union plants in the United States, Mexico, Poland, Scotland, India and China.

Automotive News estimated that in the years 2003 through 2006, the CEO received $58 million in compensation. Because the company has provided no data to justify the harsh cuts, the union has charged it with unfair labor practices. UAW president, Ron Gettlefinger, has said talks have been a “one-way” street of company demands.



Anonymous said...

I think that all of the AA workers should act like grownups. And be people that want to work. The AA workers and the CEO should be able to continue production, and meet in the middle on the labor cost.
They only seem to care about "I". (NO "I" IN TEAM) The CEO needs to take a bonus cut.
Most of the Drivers That haul you're parts are only able to sit. There are not enough loads to work. We are not being paid by Bob for sitting because he cant make the loads out of thin air. So pleas come to an agreement or close the doors.
All of the strikes the UAW has implemented this year have hurt us all. We don't make $30+ like most of you do, we are about half of that.
Thank you, "GOODSPEED"
Truck Driver

Anonymous said...

I am a Delphi employee in Flint who has been out of work for almost a month now and it sucks to some degree. I have a hard time understanding but I sympathize. I saw first hand how it affected so many that I worked with for a short time. On the other hand as people we have to use some wisdom and understand that we cannot control what is ours so to some degree I think these people are afraid because they put their faith in the wrong place. My prayers go out to them all, but as a bit of advice get off the picket lines and take responsibility for your own future. When they laid me off I was frustrated for a day and then I invested my time and energy in myself. This is America and we are in a land where money is free flowing for those who stive to obtain wisdom. If there is one thing we can all learn from large corporations like AA is that to some degree we have to think of ourselves. Large companies are interested in two things and that is money and how to make more of it and that should be the focus. For those who have been with company more than 20 years should know more than anyone else that the more money make the more you spend so you will never have enough. Look to other things... Trust me it's out there I am doing it now. You have gifts and talents that God gave you for this purpose to live stop relying on others to give it to you.

Jim Bauer said...

Companies love to use the argument that labor costs are too high, pension benefits are a burden to fund, maintain and administer, medical insurance costs are continually on the rise...the list goes on. But workers need these important benefits and a liveable wage in order to support their families. This is what I think many of these CEOs in corporate America are failing to understand; much of this unrest by the workers is due to top executives only recognizing the costs of the bottom tier of their workforce. The guys working on the assembly lines. The CEOs want to make their cuts at the expense of the OTHER employees (yes, CEOs are employees), rather than themselves. The truth is that these guys are millionaires. If you ask me, millionaires do not need pensions. They've made more than enough money to live very comfortably for the rest of their lives. They also can afford to pay for their own private medical insurance. They do not need to have their tax expenses paid for them (like when they get those big bonuses that will have complex and sometimes expensive tax consequences). Again, the list goes on. So why are they (the companies) paying for this stuff, especially in a time when cost appears to be a fundamental reason for denying the union's demands, and frankly the worker's needs? If companies like Axle are truly interested in lowering costs, why not start by looking into the compensation packages and over the top benefits of the guys making all of the decisions? A guy doesn't mind conceding a few things, but I don't think a guy wants to hear anything about rising costs when its coming from a millionaire who will not feel even 1/10th of the pain the worker will feel when his wages and benefits are hacked away at. I applaud the union for their resolve in this fight.

Anonymous said...

beause of this strike I had to go to a different shift I had to leave 1st and go to 2nd my kids are suffering I only get to see them for a hour a day I don't get to eat dinner with them or ear about there day in school, our whole shop has been moved around or even layed off we don't have a 3rd shift anymore right now some people don't have jobs so come guys make a deal lets get michigan working again please. thank you

Anonymous said...

Im 19 years old and i work at GKN Sinter Metals in Emporium, Pennsylvania. I started working January 4 of this year. I was layed off at the beginning of March. I returned to work at the beginning of April. I worked a whole 2 weeks before i got put on lay off again. I still live with my father, but i was paying him 400 a month because he cant afford it on his own anymore. I pay for his cell phone and help with the groceries and everything else. I am quite happy with my 10.86 an hour job. I think im overpayed for the work i do. Just go back to work. Or you could have gotten an education. There is plenty of people that would love to have your job. Everyone needs to just grow up and realize you have to work a lot harder with out an education. And this isn't hard work. It may be a little boring but not hard. There is people that work way harder than you for a lot less. Thanks for screwing a lot of honest, hard-working people.

Anonymous said...

If you can't deal with what you make, then find a different job. You have kids now? That isnt anyone elses fault but your own. No one said you had to have kids. Im not talking about the person going to second shift either. Im talking about the person complaining about not making enough money to support a family. Maybe you should have planned things a little bit better.

Anonymous said...


Almost Retired said...

I am an employee in an auto parts supplier in Holland, Michigan, BBI Enterprises and I applaud the workers at AA for what they are doing. If we let the big companies
like GM and Ford and other companie
s get away with not paying their people a fair wage then we all lose
Our company in my opinion pulled a bluff on its workers at our last contract when they said that they would close the doors if we went on strike. I voted against the con
tract, but my vote wasn't enough to
make a differerence. So stay in there AA workers until you get what you deserve, a descent contract.

Anonymous said...

Hey American Axle workers listen up.Here lies your futures and the futures of many other people.What will you have if the company shutsdown and moves else where.You will have less than you have now nothing at all and starting over trying to climb the ladder of employment again.Now I am sure the are alot of people that have been with the company for quite some time but You cannot have it all.Yes it is the companies fault for allowing the union to get by for so long but a union has to be given limits.It is your own faults for trying to live high on the hog with your high salaries but if you had been smart you would have seen it coming with the whole country going through a very hard recession which if the GOVERNMENT doesn't do something about very soon, and I don't mean by the sorry excuse for tax rebates, we are looking at the next depression.So get your eyes back on the right path and learn from your mistakes.either take a compromise or start over.