UAW American Axle Strike Backfires, Big Style

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams
uaw american axle strike backfires big style

The United Auto Workers (UAW) just lost their bargaining power in their strike against American Axle. When the strike shut down the plants supplying GM's truck and SUV plants, the union thought GM would put pressure on AA to settle quickly– so the automaker could get the lines running again. Not so. GM used the shutdown as an opportunity to purge its supply pipeline of a glut of slow-selling trucks. Then they "found" axles elsewhere to continue production of their better-selling models. Even after two months, GM still isn't feeling much pain from the strike. Instead, they've announced they're going to cut truck production drastically, meaning American Axle's Mexican operation can produce enough axles to [almost] meet their need while other suppliers take up the slack. To use an old military saying, the UAW has shit in their own mess kit. Even if they accepted all of AA's demands for salary and benefit cuts, there won't be a job for many of them to go back to. Looks like Ron Gettelfinger will have a lot of 'splaining to do, especially as they make a push to organize Toyota's operations.

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  • RedStapler RedStapler on May 01, 2008

    You can actually make a comfortable living driving truck if you are smart about it and stay away from Long Hauling. From an income/employability perspective you are much better off with a in demand "blue collar" that you can learn in 1-2years & $15-25k than spending $30-50k+ for a BA is some liberal nonsense like ethnic studies. ihatetrees Lots of Americans have basket weaving degrees that have little demand in today’s world. Meanwhile, technical, blue collar fields like Tool & Die maker or Machinist struggle to find enough workers.

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on May 01, 2008

    mel23, Maybe we should all recognize we live in the same world and stop trying to be unrealistic about it. Just read in the WSJ today that India is now short skilled construction workers. They, are having to train illiterate people who have never seen an elevator to build steel and concrete buildings. Presently, these people make $1.50 a day and live in squallor, but guess what - The shortage is causing the builders to now provide above average living conditions for it's workers to keep them from defecting to other builders. The workers dorms that are going up are nicer than the house my dad grew up in. The market will work so long as no one colludes against the employees. AND, so long as the employees cannot unfairly collude against the companies. Having unions prop up wages over market levels is the proximate cause of these plant closing disasters that leave the people with no choices (other than to kick themselves in the butt and start being independent), not the ultimately inevitable outsourcing or moving of production oversees. Had the union not sold these people a bill of goods, many more of them would have chosen careers that offered better futures. The wages would have risen and fallen over the years as the market could bear it, and less pain would have been had overall. More importantly, not expecting a guaranteed living, the workers would have likely been better prepared, or used the entry level labor job as a stepping stone to move up or out.

  • Blowfish Blowfish on May 01, 2008

    Many years in Ontario a fnd works in the Ice cream factory. The Union decided that calling a strke in the middle of cold January is a good thng. Ofcourse it would have worked very well in Australia. But in middle of cold Ontaron Winter wll anybody miss Ice cream? Negotiating is a very difficult skill, quite often u can miss the boat. If u go for basket weaving degree u look for those job & good luck fnding them too.

  • Nick Nick on May 02, 2008

    Mikey, I don't want to wander off on a tangent, but do you have any idea why the small engine in the pickups is the Vortec V6 and not the Atlas 4.2 inline-6? That makes no sense to me.