American Axle will have to pay for closing local plant

By Charles Sercombe
For union workers who were laid off from the American Axle & Manufacturing plant in Detroit-Hamtramck, it’s sweet revenge time.
A labor arbitrator recently ruled that American Axle violated the contract with its former UAW employees by moving local production to a plant in Mexico. The upshot is that the company may have to pay for lost wages or rehire the workers.
American Axle abruptly closed down the plant in 2009 after it could not get the union to agree to further cuts in their wages and contract. That demand was made less than a year after workers agreed to a 50 percent cut in their pay and benefits following a bitter three-month strike.
The union says it has binding language in its contract with American Axle that prevents the outsourcing of jobs.
The next step is for the union and the company to determine how many workers were affected.
Hamtramck officials are still smarting from the plant closing. The city will lose about $500,000 a year from taxes.

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