American Axle Workers Vote "Yes" on New Contract

american axle workers vote yes on new contract

American Axle's unionized workforce are set to ratify their new "would you rather face the firing squad or be hanged?" contract. The Detroit Free Press reports that locals who've already voted have agreed to the terms of the four-year agreement. While the media has focused on salary cuts, the bitter is in the fine print. The contract changes the guidelines for computing overtime from "the regular working day is eight hours and the regular working week is forty hours" to "the regular working week is forty hours." (Translation: the company can lengthen individual shifts up to the new, 40-hour limit without paying overtime.) The accord removes five holidays over the course of the contract, and cuts the bonuses for those that remain. It lowers the limit on max vacation time accrued by the most senior workers, from 200 to 160 hours (those who already have between 160 and 200 hours can retain what they have, but not increase it).The contract reduced cost of living increases, which will now be made in lump-sum payments instead of hourly increases. The agreement cuts shift premiums drastically, to less than $1 per hour. So that's what 11 weeks on the picket line gets you these days.

[Click here for a PDF showing some of the changes from the old contract to the new.]

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  • MikeInCanada MikeInCanada on May 21, 2008

    I took a break from work (no,really) and had a read of the contract. I can come to only one conclusion - it's not enough.... This contract is just rich enough to keep the peace, yet it is too expensive to support the status quo. If there were any management holdouts that were against the wholesale relocation of manufacturing the strike put an end to their resistance. I can see the value added, high margin/complex assemblies going to a right to work state and everything else will be making a run for the border (apologizes to Taco Bell).

  • Menno Menno on May 21, 2008

    I'm afraid you're probably right, MikeInCanada. Well, we'll be able to tell our grandchildren that once upon a time, there were good paying jobs held by people who did't go $400,000 in debt to get a college degree, in the United States and Canada; and how even average joes and janes could afford to buy houses and cars. They'll just think we're going senile... because it won't ever be a part of their life-experience. Sad.

  • Golden2husky Golden2husky on May 21, 2008

    More indelible testimony highlighting the decline of the middle class. Sad is an understatement. The lake of compassion for those who are trying to make a decent living is appalling. I hope I am never in the position these people are in. I hope you guys/gals never are, either.

  • Freezin Freezin on May 21, 2008

    # golden2husky : May 21st, 2008 at 10:00 pm More indelible testimony highlighting the decline of the middle class. Sad is an understatement. The lake of compassion for those who are trying to make a decent living is appalling. I hope I am never in the position these people are in. I hope you guys/gals never are, either. Golden I share your concern. I live in the Dayton, Ohio area and there are still a lot of people who work for GM in this town. They finally went back to work this past week. GM was able to acquire some axles from another source, and they wouldn't comment on who or where. With this strike settled the 2nd shift folks will be returning in a week or two. I have to disagree with your comment on the decline of the middle class. The middle class isn't declining, but (good paying) manufacturing jobs that require little education beyond high school are. And that is what we are witnessing here. I grew up in NW Indiana during the 1970's and the same thing happened to the steel industry. There were several steel mills along the south shore of Lake Michigan that provided thousands of well paying jobs. Most of those jobs are gone, and there are only a few mills that remain today. The few remaining mills employ considerably less people and are efficient and safe due to automation. All of the middle class communities in the area (Hammond, Highland, Griffith, Munster, Schererville, Dyer, etc) are thriving. They didn't go away when the jobs left. People saw this as an opportunity and started new careers. Many returned to school to learn new and needed skills. I certainly don't lack compassion for anyone trying to make a living. But the economic reality is we are living in a global economy, and these jobs can be done for less elsewhere. To take it further, no job is safe. I work in the health care field and my employer could decide to eliminate my department tomorrow. Instead of sitting around and complaining or asking some politician what the government is going to do to help I would get off my a$$ and do something about it! I would return to school and retrain or "retool" in today's lingo. I did it about 20 years ago, and I could do it again if I had to. It wasn't easy, and it sucked being constantly broke. I worked a full and part time job and went to school fulltime. It was tough but it had to be done. I wanted to be able to support myself and my family, and needed skills and an education were the only way. Just my .02

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