American Axle: One Year After the Strike  

Alternative title: Dicke E Dauch, More Evil Day by Day

Welcome to the world that has become the United States Labor market.

It's filled with companies that pay CEO's hundreds of thousands of dollars and into the multimillions of dollars.

From the American Red Cross' Multi-Billion dollar Blood Business to Wal-Mart's sticking it to folks like Debbie Shank (and yes, they were well within their legal right to do so), but what Dick E Dauch did and continues to do, well, it just kind of makes me ill, to the nth degree.

Why you might ask, well, I think the Detroit News kind of figured that one out:

Since American Axle was spun off from General Motors and reconstituted in 1994, the union negotiates with American Axle, not GM, and does not get the sweetheart deal other UAW workers will get. In fact, Local 235 went on strike for three months last year and lost. It was a cold, bitter dispute, complete with fires in the oil drums. The unionized workers, numbering nearly 2,000 at the time, gave in to deep wage cuts, in some cases from $28 an hour to $14, in exchange for keeping their jobs. Apparently it was not enough. Fewer than 300 union members were working in the plant Monday.

In the meantime, Dick Dauch, the CEO and chairman of American Axle, was given an $8.5 million bonus by his board of directors after the strike and gave assurances to the workers and the city of Hamtramck that he would keep production here.

Yes, emphasis is mine.

I followed the strike. I was a bit obsessive about it.

I posted pictures like that of a 60 year old woman in an officer's chokehold. Or how Republican staffers who were meeting with UAW members about the bridge loans to the auto industry had NEVER heard of American Axle or their 11 week strike.

I followed one of my favorite workers Jerd0708, and cross referenced worker pay and executive pay, an issue that resinates with workers from Wal-Mart to the American Red Cross to the guys and gals on the docks. It's the Entitlement Mentality of the highest levels of executives that seals the fate of so many of us who simply want to work. Folks who just want to put in an honest day of work for an honest day of pay.

More than ever, I believe in the power of unions, but we need stronger labor laws to make it possible for union workers to rebuild the middle class. We need to pass the Employee Free Choice Act to make it possible for more workers to sign a union card and join a union. Together maybe we can start holding boards of directors, CEOs and other executives accountable for their actions when they give an $8.5 million bonus to Dick E Dauch (I said BONUS here) just for the hell of it.

One other thing:
We as a nation need to do a better job of ensuring that companies can't just flee one jurisdiction to go to another because somewhere, down the road, doing so might be cheaper (think of what American Axle is doing in moving jobs to Mexico or Kongsberg Automotive moving production into Poland) in terms of labor costs and environmental costs. Again, from the Detroit News:

Chris Son, the director of communications at American Axle, called late Wednesday to say that the layoffs are "fallout from the GM and Chrysler shutdowns." He also confirmed that the Mexicans will continue to work as the Americans are out on the street.

"For logistical reasons, a level of production will continue in Mexico," said Son. "At the same time, there will be lower production requirements in Detroit. Other than that, I have no further comment on that matter."

Logistical reasons, right. Chris and Dick, if American workers can't buy cars produced with your parts, what's the point in moving to Brazil, Poland or continuing operations in Mexico? If we can't buy these cars, who will? Oh wait, I know the answer, guys like you, right?

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