UAW-American Axle strikers share the pain

More than two-thirds of the workforce at General Motors Corp.’s Toledo Powertrain plant will be temporarily laid off beginning March 10 after a strike at an axle supplier shut down operations at several GM assembly plants. Powertrain workers in Toledo were informed today that the plant would suspend production of its four-speed transmission next week, affecting close to 1,300 of the plant’s approximately 1,880 workers, GM Powertrain spokesman Wanda Wellman-Montion said.

The temporary production stoppage is being blamed on an ongoing strike by the United Auto Workers against American Axle and Manufacturing Holdings Inc., a major supplier to GM.

About 3,600 workers represented by the United Auto Workers at five American Axle plants in Michigan and New York went on strike last week in a contract dispute.

American Axle and the UAW haven’t returned to the bargaining table since talks broke off on Feb. 25, although both sides have said they’re ready to resume talks at any time.

Laid-off Powertrain workers will be eligible to receive unemployment compensation and supplemental unemployment benefits from the UAW. Ms. Wellman-Montion said it was “difficult to speculate at this point” how long the shutdown will last, but said it would begin as planned even if the UAW and American Axle come to terms on a new agreement before Wednesday.

“We’ll continue with the plan, because American Axle will have to fill up their pipeline to our assembly plants,” when the strike ends, she said.

About a third of UAW workers at Toledo Powertrain will remain on the job to work on the upcoming launch of the plant’s new six-speed transmission, scheduled to begin production at the Alexis Road facility this year.

The four-speed transmission is used primarily in several large GM vehicles, such as the automakers line up full-sized pickups, vans, and sport-utility vehicles.


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