American Axle: Tentative Agreement?  

crossposted on Dailykos

AP's reporting a tentative deal

American Axle and Manufacturing Holdings Inc. boosted its wage offer and increased the payments it will give workers to take a wage cut as part of a tentative agreement that could settle an 11-week strike by the United Auto Workers union, a person briefed on the deal said Saturday.

Okay, so I'm happy that there is movement now on this, it's cool, really cool. I'm especially elated that this movement comes just DAYS after OBAMA spoke about this.

I heard about this through an e-mail from one of the striker's families:

So, Obama has finally recognized the strife of the American Axle worker. It wasn't much but he did mention us in his speech today at Macomb Community College. I feel that he should have visited our picket lines today instead of a Chrysler plant in Sterling Heights. But as I have learned; our struggle isn't much of anything to others just us....for now. Until it affects the rest of us one day soon. I won't complain much - we received more attention with his comment then I thought we ever would.

The American Axle comments start at 1:09 and the applause at 1:17 (it's a solidarity thing). I think you should also read some of the text, here are my favorite pieces from the speech:

Not too far from here, at American Axle, UAW members have gone on strike to fight for good wages, and good benefits, and a decent standard of living. These are things that all hardworking families should expect and that UAW members deserve, and we stand in solidarity with the folks on the picket lines, and the families impacted by this strike.

Their struggle is part of a larger struggle that's being waged not just in Michigan, but all across the country. It's a struggle to ensure that we have good manufacturing jobs so American workers can raise a family, have health care when they need it, put their children through college, and retire with dignity and security. They're common hopes, modest dreams, but they're slipping out of reach for too many families.

It's a small mention, however, it's a big time mention about the entire industry and how too many decision are made in boardrooms that effect workers without workers even being involved. Way to go Barack, way to go!

I won't stand here and tell you that we'll be able to stop every job from going overseas or bring every job back. But I will tell you that we can end the Bush-McCain policy of giving tax breaks to companies that ship our jobs overseas, and we can start giving those tax breaks to companies that create good-paying jobs right here in America. Instead of opposing job training similar to what's being offered at M-Tech, like John McCain has, we can make sure every American has the skills to compete in the global economy. We don't have to stand idly by while foreign competitors outpace us in making the cars of the future. I'm running for President to make sure that the cars of the future are made where they've always been made - right here in Michigan. Because the fight for American manufacturing is the fight for America's future - and I believe that's a fight this country will win.

Personally, it's a fight we must win.

So, thank you Senator Obama for making a more important and relevant statement about the strike and the issues facing American manufacturing.

As for American Axle's strike, here's what AP is saying now:

The deal is similar to what the UAW agreed to with auto parts maker Delphi Corp. last year, the person said. In that deal, Delphi agreed to pay workers "buy downs" of $105,000 over three years.

Noncore workers, which are those that aren't involved in actual manufacturing, would be paid $14.55 per hour, the person said, while skilled trades workers would get $26 per hour.

American Axle confirmed Friday night that both sides had agreed on a deal, but details weren't released. UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said in a statement Friday night that the American Axle bargaining committee voted to recommend the agreement to members, who would get details starting Sunday.

The agreement, which still must be voted on by about 3,600 workers at five plants in New York and Michigan, includes the closure of American Axle's Detroit and Tonawanda, N.Y., forge operations. It also has a separate but lower pay scale for American Axle's operations in Three Rivers, Mich., the person said.

Just a look at the kind of people this will effect in Tonawanda:

My bigger issue with this agreement is that it might not actually be ratified by the membership. They are giving up a great deal to keep these jobs. So, is it worth the 11.5 weeks they've been out to get very little more than what was originally offered by Dick Dauch, a man who took more than $10 million last year from American Axle in compensation and bonuses. Again, from AP:

Strike captain Duane Thompson said ratification will depend on whether workers believe they can get a better offer. He thinks a better deal than what's been reported can be negotiated.

"There's a bunch of us who don't like it because we feel we deserve more, or just leave what we have alone. But don't take away from us," said Thompson, a Hamtramck resident.

Thompson also said he worries about the impact this contract could have on future contracts for all UAW workers.

"If we pass it, it will make people look funny at us: 'Did you do everything in your power to win, or did you just give up the fight?'" Thompson said.

Skilled trades worker Doug Sherrill, of Macomb County's Macomb Township, said Saturday that union workers are skeptical.

"We're happy we got a tentative agreement, but is it going to pass? The way people feel around here is it's going to be a tough sell," Sherrill said.

UAW workers were picketing Saturday, and plan to continue until an agreement is ratified, but they are feeling the pinch of living on strike pay for nearly 12 weeks, non-production worker Leo McGucki said.

"There's a lot of people hurting," McGucki said, a Warren resident who has worked for American Axle for nearly 13 years.

Still, Thompson said the workers know what's at stake.

"This is our livelihood we're talking about. We can't take that lightly," he said.

I wonder how many of us could stand by and just let it happen. I don't think I could. I just don't know how much more the strikers can take. I don't know how much more the rest of us can, either.

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