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American Axle workers strike after failing to reach contract deal

American Axle workers strike after failing to reach contract deal

Factory workers at American Axle and Manufacturing Holdings Inc. picketed in two states Tuesday after failing to reach a new contract agreement with the auto parts supplier.
Company spokeswoman Renee Rogers said United Auto Workers members at five factories were picketing at dawn. Workers struck Monday when a midnight deadline passed without a new contract.
A lengthy strike could affect General Motors Corp., Chrysler LLC and other automakers, but American Axle had stockpiled parts in anticipation of a work stoppage.
"We're able at this point to supply our customers' needs," Rogers said Tuesday.
Rogers would not say how long the company could continue to supply parts.
She said no talks had been scheduled with the union.
"We're looking forward to reaching a fair and equitable agreement with the UAW as soon as possible," she said.
American Axle has 3,600 workers at U.S. plants in Michigan and New York who make axles, drive shafts and stabilizer bars.
GM, American Axle's former parent, makes up nearly 80 percent of the supplier's business. Chrysler has about 10 percent, with the rest spread among several other automakers, Rogers said.
The strike has not yet affected GM factories, spokeswoman Deborah Silverman said.
"I'm not going to speculate about when the strike will be resolved, how long we'll be able to continue production," she said Tuesday.
The UAW said American Axle is demanding wage reductions of up to $14 (euro9.41) an hour as well as elimination of future retiree and pension benefits. The UAW said the company failed to provide the union with enough information to evaluate its proposals.
"The UAW has a proven record of working with companies to improve their competitive position and secure jobs," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said in a statement. "But cooperation does not mean capitulation. Our members cannot be expected to make the extreme sacrifices American Axle is asking for with nothing in return."
American Axle Chairman and Chief Executive Richard Dauch said the union should give the company the same wage concessions it has agreed to at other suppliers and automakers.
"All of the changes we have proposed have been accepted by the UAW in agreements with our competitors in the United States. I have no idea why AAM is being singled out for a different set of economic conditions," Dauch said in a statement.
The UAW's recent contracts with the Detroit Three automakers, which established lower wages for thousands of non-assembly workers, have set the stage for tough negotiations at parts suppliers.
American Axle manufacturing workers can make up to $65 (euro43.70) an hour in wages and benefits, on par with assembly workers at GM, Chrysler and Ford Motor Co. The company wants to cut that to $20 (euro13.45) to $30 (euro20.17) an hour, which would be similar to agreements reached between the UAW and nonassembly workers at the Detroit Three as well as other auto suppliers such as Dana Corp. and Delphi Corp.
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AP Auto Writer Tom Krisher and Associated Press Writer David Runk contributed to this report.
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On the Net:
http://www.aam.com
http://www.uaw.org