Thursday, March 6, 2008


repost from Soldiers of Solidarity:

The Free Press has published documents we cannot dismiss! We need to consider this as a warning that the negotiators have gone astray. We are lucky to have a chance to say to them BEFORE the tentative agreement:


-Shifting Gears Steering Committee

Wage Cut and Plant Closings Unacceptable
A Free Press article on March 4th published information that before negotiations were broken off the International Union had proposed wage cuts for both skilled and production workers. According to the article, AAM proposes paying skilled trades $20.50 an hour and the Union proposes $27 - but that's still more than a $5 an hour cut out of the base rate! AAM proposes paying production workers $11.50-$14.50 an hour; the Union counters with $14.65-$21. The company's last offer also eliminates COLA and they want to get rid of a defined pension plan for seniority workers. It's a good thing there is no agreement because there is no way American Axle workers should go along with this!

The company compares us only with the bankrupt company Dana and says they want the same agreement. They've got some nerve! A profitable company compares itself to a bankrupt company and demands the same concessions! What about comparing us to Ford and Chrysler axle workers? Despite the fact two tier was forced on them this contract like it was forced on us last contract, the workers with seniority are still making the traditional wage! And this, despite the fact these companies claimed financial difficulties.

The Strike Gives Us Strength

Every day our strike creates a ripple effect. This has forced AAM back to the table! By Mon., Mar. 10th, seven GM plants will be down including Toledo Transmission as well as supplier plants like Lear and Delphi.

GM, Chrysler, Ford and Delphi workers are glad we are standing up because they felt railroaded and betrayed in their negotiations. If profitable AAM is allowed to roll over us now, our concessions will be used against GM, Chrysler and Ford workers the next time around. The spiral will be never-ending until someone draws a line in the sand. We are the ones to do it!

The continuing threat to "idle" most of AAM pattern contract plants if Management does not get their way is disgusting. This economic terrorism escalated when AAM did not get the contract re-opened a couple of years ago; the threats have continued ever since. The Buffalo "idling" was meant as an example for the rest of us. In Sept., 2007, AAM bought an empty plant in Oxford, Mi. and started moving work there from Detroit and Tonawanda Forges, hiring non-union workers at $10 an hour! When the company formed in 1994 there were approximately 5,600 workers. There are now only approximately 3,600 workers in the pattern plants and they want to take it down 1000 more! It's time for the company to stop union busting and start bargaining in good faith. It's time we got the credit we deserve for making AAM what they are today!

*Maintain our wages, pensions and health care benefits
*No plant closings, fill empty floor space in the union plants
*Products guaranteed to all plants beyond the life of the contract like the GM Contract
*No flaky "if business case can be made" language
*Eliminate two-tier with a wage-benefit bridge
*Actual contract language at least a week before the vote
*Observers at the ballot boxes and during the vote count
*Don't be fooled by lump sum signing bonuses, buy-downs, and buy-outs

Shifting Gears Steering Committee,, 313-892-7974 labor donated

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Detroit Workers go on strike at American Axle

the below article is taken from the website, Factory Rat. And is from the sites forum section concerning American Axle and the strike. - S&D

Author: John Rummel

DETROIT—The United Auto Workers struck American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc at 12:01 a.m. Feb. 26 when no deal was reached on a new labor pact. The largest proportion of American Axle parts are for GM’s pickups and SUVs. Affected are 3,600 workers in plants in Michigan and New York.

At American Axle’s Detroit Manufacturing Complex, sitting on the border of Detroit and Hamtramck, it was not the best weather to be forced to walk out in – smack into the middle of a February snowstorm. But workers do what they have to do, weather be damned. That was evident by the crowded local hall full of people signing up for their picket line duties. UAW Local 235 Vice President Bill Alford said everybody is doing their part and many are signing up for multiple shifts.

Alford said the union is charging the company with “unfair labor practices” because they have not provided the union with any information to back up the cuts they are asking workers to take. The union says the company is demanding wage reductions of up to $14 an hour as well as elimination of future retiree health care and defined benefit pensions for active workers.

“We are hard working, working people,” said Alford. Nobody here is a millionaire except the guy in the big chair. We will be out as long as it takes and we’ll fight every step of the way.”

While Alford said the townsfolk have been great, bringing things like hot coffee to the picket line, the specialty of Hamtramck is homemade Polish sausage. “We’re still holding out for that” Alford said.

The same hospitality cannot be said of the local police. They’ve forced the workers to put out the “barrel fires” they were using to stay warm. “I now have to go find propane heaters” he said.


Statement & Call For The Elimination Of Two-Tier Workplaces

Call for national campaign: In conjunction with the Center for Labor Renewal, participants at the Flint, January 26, 2008 meeting issue the following Call:

In the face of the continuing assault on worker wages, benefits, and the quality of work life where rising economic injustice is destroying the stability and hopes of an increasing numbers of workers and their families, here and around the world; and where inequality and income discrimination are celebrated by a protected few at the desperate expense of so many others; we call on all workers of conscience everywhere to join a campaign to bring our collective strength and renewed solidarity to the struggle against the agenda of social devaluation and despair.

Workers in the auto industry have a critical role to play in this campaign given the destructive events in that industry which now, more than ever, seeks to validate the pitting of workers against workers, and communities against communities, and the glorification of the false dog-eat-dog, workplace agenda of the corporations today. In that world its “winner-take-all,” and the winner has been pre-determined. We call on all auto workers to reject all forms of wage discrimination and renew the fight for industrial democracy through worker solidarity, and to:

Build within our workplaces, a movement against two-tier wages, and a renewal of solidarity unionism by means of varied communications vehicles including the internet; web sites; newsletters and plant gate handbills, etc.

Promote crosscurrents of opposition against the creation of second class workers in all workplaces.

Where a two-tier system is in place, concretely demonstrate to the new workers that there is a strong base of resistance against the discrimination they face, and that we all need to remember the lesson that “an injury to one, is an injury to all.”

Within the Big Three, or any auto workplaces, target the rejection of future agreements (2011in the Big Three) if they do not reverse the two-tier system.

Promote internal democracy to encourage the inclusion and participation of the second tier workers alongside the entire rank and file to change the concessionary path followed by the current leadership.

Such a campaign will need mechanisms to facilitate links, exchange information, and assist in the coordination of future actions. Coming out of a meeting organized by the Center for Labor Renewal (CLR) of 80 activists in Flint, Michigan, the CLR commits to:

Collect and develop material for building the necessary base in the workplace and its electronic dissemination. Assist in the development and proliferation of additional vehicles of communication.

Develop an information clearinghouse to gather and disseminate reports and updates on local struggles and developments.

Support regional forums to assist activists in developing the arguments and organizational capacities to build the solidarity program at the base

Facilitate national meetings through which local activists can assess the campaign and collectively strategize on further events and actions.

Promote the development of the analytical tools required by union activists to successfully integrate this campaign with a workers’ struggle that is increasingly global in dimension.

This fight is winnable. The U.S. working class needs a victory and it needs this victory in particular. The one-sided class war against workers has gone on far too long. The defeat of the two tier system is a crucial step in the struggle to address broader inequalities in our society. It’s time to draw the line.

Center for Labor Renewal
Future of the Union
Soldiers of Solidarity
Factory Rat