US: Axle, how American workers are losing

by Jonathan Tasini

Here are a few ways clues that show very clearly the hit many workers are taking. The UAW has had to go on strike against American Axle after talks broke down late last night over a new contract. Check out what the company wants 3,600 workers to accept. According to The Wall Street Journal:

The company has said it is looking to reduce its “all-in” hourly labor costs in North America from more than $70 an hour — which includes health, retiree and other fringe benefits — to something closer to $27 an hour for production workers, or $35 an hour including skilled trades workers, who typically are paid more. American Axle also has said it wants changes to work rules and job classifications to improve plant efficiency.

Right. The company wants to obliterate a decent pay scale. Just eyeballing the overall number it looks like the company wants workers to labor for about 12 bucks an hour. And over at Ford, the company would prefer not to have workers at all:

The Ford Motor Company is applying the hard sell these days – piling on incentives, doling out marketing DVDs and brochures, and making offers it hopes are too good to pass up. But Ford’s big new push is not to sell cars. Instead, it is trying to sign up thousands of workers to take buyouts, partly by convincing them that their brightest future lies outside the company that long offered middle-class wages for blue-collar jobs.

So, Ford is pitching a buffet of buyout packages that are easily among the richest ever offered to factory workers, including one-time cash payments of $140,000 or college tuition plans for an entire family.

And…

Ford has eliminated more than 32,000 jobs over the last two years through buyouts and early retirements. But it needs to cut more to improve productivity, make room for transfers from its former Visteon parts plants, and pave the way for new hires at wages of $14 an hour – roughly half of current pay scales.

So, you see, the strike at American Axle and the Ford buy-outs are two sides of the same coin: the shrinking of basic pay and benefits, either through a draconian contract demand or an offer to leave a company for chunk of money that probably will not suffice most people once they find out what awaits them in the job market of the future.

And how do African-Americans fare in this environment?
 

the facts:  

(The Associated Press)  Factory workers at American Axle and Manufacturing Holdings Inc. picketed in two states Tuesday after failing to reach a new contract agreement with the auto parts supplier. Company spokeswoman Renee Rogers said United Auto Workers members at five factories were picketing at dawn. Workers struck Monday when a midnight deadline passed without a new contract.

A lengthy strike could affect General Motors Corp., Chrysler LLC and other automakers, but American Axle had stockpiled parts in anticipation of a work stoppage. “We’re able at this point to supply our customers’ needs,” Rogers said Tuesday.

Rogers would not say how long the company could continue to supply parts. She said no talks had been scheduled with the union.

“We’re looking forward to reaching a fair and equitable agreement with the UAW as soon as possible,” she said. American Axle has 3,600 workers at U.S. plants in Michigan and New York who make axles, drive shafts and stabilizer bars. GM, American Axle’s former parent, makes up nearly 80 percent of the supplier’s business. Chrysler has about 10 percent, with the rest spread among several other automakers, Rogers said. The strike has not yet affected GM factories, spokeswoman Deborah Silverman said.

“I’m not going to speculate about when the strike will be resolved, how long we’ll be able to continue production,” she said Tuesday.

The UAW said American Axle is demanding wage reductions of up to $14 an hour as well as elimination of future retiree and pension benefits. The UAW said the company failed to provide the union with enough information to evaluate its proposals.

“The UAW has a proven record of working with companies to improve their competitive position and secure jobs,” UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said in a statement. “But cooperation does not mean capitulation. Our members cannot be expected to make the extreme sacrifices American Axle is asking for with nothing in return.”

American Axle Chairman and Chief Executive Richard Dauch said the union should give the company the same wage concessions it has agreed to at other suppliers and automakers.

“All of the changes we have proposed have been accepted by the UAW in agreements with our competitors in the United States. I have no idea why AAM is being singled out for a different set of economic conditions,” Dauch said in a statement.

The UAW’s recent contracts with the Detroit Three automakers, which established lower wages for thousands of non-assembly workers, have set the stage for tough negotiations at parts suppliers. American Axle manufacturing workers can make up to $65 an hour in wages and benefits, on par with assembly workers at GM, Chrysler and Ford Motor Co. The company wants to cut that to $20 to $30 an hour, which would be similar to agreements reached between the UAW and nonassembly workers at the Detroit Three as well as other auto suppliers such as Dana Corp. and Delphi Corp.  

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12 Responses to “US: Axle, how American workers are losing”


  1. 1 jim February 26, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Having worked at American Axle in the past, I say good for the company. I was a two tier new hire for 5 months. I got paid $14/hour, with no benefits. All the union ever did for me was make promises they couldn’t (and didn’t) keep.

    The point of the company asking for said cuts, is that they won’t be able to survive without it. GM will take away their business, leaving the company all but dead. Almost 100% of the Detroit Gear and Axle is GM business.

    I’ve heard people saying that the executives should take a pay cut if they have to, too. I don’t agree with this statement at all. The company is only profitable because of the executives. The only reasons the Detroit people are still making the $65 fully loaded labor is 1) contracts 2) the business has taken jobs elsewhere to offset the cost of keeping jobs in America.

    So in short, I hope the union gets hit hard, and these people get a wake up call. You should’ve gone to college, and realized that one day – you wouldn’t be able to make $30/hour in wages for being uneducated.

    Don’t blame this on the company.
    Blame yourselves.

  2. 2 AAM February 26, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Talk about uneducated…You must fall into this category if you were making $14 an hour. You sound very bitter…the union never made a promised to the TEMPORARY folks that have worked there. You were not given any promise for anything other than $14 per hour. You would have gotten the temp position there because you have a family member or friend that works there. That’s the only way you would have been brought in. Where’s your loyalty to that person? Remember, there’s many educated people that work at AAM. Just because they work in the factory doesn’t mean they are uneducated.

    Remember these are people with mortgages and families. Since you are so smart, how would you suggest that a person pay a $1,000 per month mortgage on $14 per hour? AAM set the tone when they started paying the wages these folks are making. No union member ever said they weren’t willing to take a pay cut of some sorts and changes to the benefits package. At $14 per hour they will lose their homes and will not be able to take care of their families…would you be happy to see that Mr. Bitter?????

    You my friend are uneducated and hopefully you will never see the inside of AAM again!!

  3. 3 SABRINA February 27, 2008 at 2:38 am

    BEING JEALOUS GETS YOU KNOW WHERE IN LIFE. ITS OBVIOUS YOU DONT HAVE A COLLEGE DEGREE EITHER BECAUSE IF YOU DID YOU WOULDNT HAVE BEEN MAKING 14 DOLLARS DUMMY! WE THE WORKERS HAVE MADE THAT COMPANY WHAT IT IS TODAY. WE HANDLE STEEL, BREATH BAD AIR AND DEAL WITH COOLANT THAT CAUSE CANCER ON TOP OF STANDING ON ARE FEET EVERYDAY. ITS OBVIOUS YOU COULDNT SURVIVE WORKING AT AMERICAN AXLE BECAUSE YOUR NO LONGER THERE. AS FAR AS MANAGEMENT ALOT OF THEM COULDNT POSSIBLE DO WHAT WE DO. ALOT OF THEM DONT HAVE THE BRAINS OR THE KNOWLEDGE TO COMPLETE SIMPLE TASKS THEY JUST GOT LUCKY WITH A JOB. ITS FOOLS LIKE YOU THAT HATES THE UNION WORKERS AND DONT WANT MUCH IN LIFE. LET SOMEONE TAKE FOOD FROM YOUR TABLE AND SEE HOW YOU MIGHT FEEL. DONT EVER THINK BECAUSE WE WORK IN THE PLANT WE DONT HAVE AN EDUCATION! IF TOUR DUM A– GOT AN EDUCATION I BET WE MAKE MORE MONEY THAN YOU SO MAYBE YOU SHOULD HAVE STAYED WITH AMERICAN AXLE!!!!!

  4. 4 The Wife February 27, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Is it unreasonable to pay $18/hour to a largely “uneducated” workforce in today’s economy – especially in Michigan? Probably not, but it IS unreasonable to say to someone (who has a car payment, mortgage, kids to send to college, etc.): this week, your check will be $900 and next week it’ll be $450. AAM isn’t giving anyone time to adjust their lifestyles to such a decrease in income.

    Yeah, yeah – the Delphi UAW handed over the concessions with relatively little fight – but they were in the throes of bankruptcy and EVERYONE was looking at losing their jobs! At least when their workforce took a pay cut, they were given $105K to make some changes in their spending and get used to making less money. AAM is offering nothing and they’re still a very profitable company! If you’re going to cut someone off at the knees, the least you can do is buy them a wheelchair to get around it!

  5. 5 Dawn February 27, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    I was a former AAM employee who took the buyout a couple of years ago. I did so because I could feel the changes coming and knew they weren’t going to be good. All you have to do is watch the news everyday and it’s happening every where! I hope all the AAM brothers and sisters stand their ground and get what they justly deserve. For AAM execs to ask for such a drastic cut is unbelievable! They should realize that without those workers busting their hump everyday, they wouldn’t have the houses, cars, etc. that they have… oh, and what their asking their workers to give up! Hold strong AAM UAW workers! You have more support than you are aware of and you can make a difference! Good luck and God Bless!

  6. 6 Santiago March 6, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    I’m eds worker on Rosario Argentina for gm account, and really I admire your conscience and the resistance of this strike on a long time and that climatic conditions. The future of the humanity on this world it’s on workers hands. For me the workers on entire world are losing.
    Here the work conditions are very hard because they prohibit us to unite to us although the Argentine law allows it.
    Our whole solidarity with all you, and remember your fight by a world better also is ours and the Argentine workers we will unconditionally support them until the last consequences.

    Very good luck. We will win.

  7. 7 Pete March 18, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    There has been little mention of the nine million dollars that dick got this year or the ninety five million he got in the past years or the other execs who got a high bonus also middle managers and others,
    seems like everyone profits from the company doing good now they want to cut out the workers completely. the profit scale was/is not balanced properly.i came from a company who also did the workers wrong i have been a skilled tradesman for a long time and left the company i thought was wrong and came here for a fresh start. now i need to leave for greed again? i will fight this cause i can here,but what of others who are not in a union and can not for fear of being fired?

    Thank You
    JUSTAME

  8. 8 Yolanda Smith March 19, 2008 at 2:52 am

    As a current striker, I resent the fact that I have walk a picket line with lazy, uneducated co-workers. I may not agree with everything AAM is doing, but they are right that we are overpaid, get benefits well above comprable jobs and have an unacceptable absenteeism rate. I hate that I come to work, do an outstanding job and get paid as lazy drunks next to me. If I were AAM, I’d shut these plants down and rehire those willing to give in. As a union member, there was a time it meant something – today it’s only a confrontational organization who doesn’t understand business and refuses to open it’s eyes to the new world order. My only hope is that when this is all said and down, I can take a buyout, get educated and never work in the automotive industry again. I can’t say my fellow strikers are thinking this way.

  9. 9 JOLYNA April 9, 2008 at 2:24 am

    It is no secret that AAM and the UAW are at odds with the new contract. It is no secret that the rumors, of the proposed contracts, are going to hurt thousands of families. And, it is no secret that we, as AAM families, simply can’t stand for it.
    AAM states the Detroit facilities are losing money. Consequently, it is our fault and we need to take a pay cut to adjust their profits accordingly. Well, I wonder if Mr. Dauch knows how his plant is mismanaged and that he is misinformed by his management. There are quite a few costly issues with the Forge. Issues that have been discussed with management numerous times. Issues that could save AAM considerable amounts of money. He needs to come down to the floor and speak with the men and women that work hard for him and honestly know the” ins and outs” of their machines and departments. He would hear honest opinions and thorough suggestions that would better productivity. It would change his idea of what his workers really do and in time will even see better profits. I guarantee it!

    Processes are not clarified. Like re-run steel; steel is scrapped after it is run through the induction heater twice. No documentation supports this action. The Quality Supervisor states steel can be run through more than twice. Usually this steel is scrapped. Many racks of this steel are scrapped annually. How much money is lost on a whole rack of good steel being tossed out.

    We had a period of time where no Preventative Maintenance had been performed on the Upsetters for many years. Employee’s are blamed for these machines not running or when we can’t obtain a quality part.

    Supervisors just want to be a boss. It’s all about clicking with the Upper Management and covering their own rears not the hourly employees. Supervisors just want to look good for Dauch and Upper Management. We have been told, on Numerous occasions, when Dauch walks through the plants, to just keep the machines running even if we are only making scrap. They think they are showing Dauch that we are “running strong”. Dauch needs to walk in Unannounced. He will see the real way his plant is being run. It is like a dog and pony show if they know he is coming through.

    Shotblast and Bender Operators become supervisors. An Agricultural Engineer running the Upset Department? Finance people become Area Supervisors and then Plant Managers? How can a 3 month Supervisor tell a 14 year vet what to do and how he should do it? Who would you want to teach you on the workings of an Upsetter; Management with a degree that has nothing to do with Manufacturing or an employee that has been running and repairing that machine for 14 years? These people have no idea the skillfulness and intricate modifications that are done to produce a quality part. Some of these modifications are needed due to the lack of preventive maintenance mentioned above.

    There has been “big money” wasted on past processes that we don’t use anymore. Example: We implemented a new tagging system that failed TWICE. How many hours were wasted organizing and building this system, TWICE? How much in materials wasted, TWICE? By the way, we aren’t using this system …again. Yet, you won’t listen to the suggestions that will really save you money. Like the scrap mentioned above, or cutting small rubber mats out of the big used rubber mats to save money. Why buy small ones when we can reuse big ones? How many thousands of dollars would that have saved over the years? Somehow Management doesn’t think it’s a good idea! Who makes these decisions? I want to see them on St. Aubin begging for their jobs. These are some of the reasons why we feel we are being set up for failure. Imagine the money saved if someone listened to us years ago. Really, years ago.

    AAM spent $150,000 to develop a class that would train and instruct us on how to run and repair an Upsetter. 4 people took the course (I was one of them) and there were numerous errors in the textbook and on the video. This is a training video and there is a safety violation RIGHT ON THE VIDEO! It is a shame that an hourly worker is looked at as disposable and useless. It is ironic that the same employee is the one who is correcting your textbook and has to educate the “teacher” on the finer points of Forging.

    We have gone for years without the proper tools. At one time we had them. Then Management took them and threw them away because they were going to “re-do” the system. We have never received replacement tools. This causes much more down time and consequently money is wasted…again.

    As we all know, Toyota is an important client. Then why is the quench protection for Hino shafts barely operable? Equipment is broken. The process is hardly documented; as we have been instructed to do. The whole process needs to be re-evaluated. Good parts are continually being scrapped in large quantities. Modifying this process would save a lot of money for AAM and maybe even Toyota.

    Then there are safety issues. There is plexiglass in the windows of an overhead crane. OSHA standards require shatterproof glass. Maybe I should mention the Upset crane that doesn’t have brakes. The list can really go on and on. Safety issues are ignored until we are fined or somebody gets hurt. 2 ½ years it took to put a mirror inside the bay door of the Upset department so Hi-lo’s won’t injure people.

    These are just some of the issues in my department. I know there are issues in other departments as well and those employee’s could share a wealth of suggestions too.

    While Mr. Dauch, was at Chrysler, he was quoted as saying “We would go in, stop operations, and talk to people” You felt it was important to hear what the workers had to say. Why not now when it is YOUR OWN company? Who better to give you insight on the struggles or successes on the floor? It has been said that you are purposely ignoring these issues because you want the Forge to fail. We know you want to shut it down. And who better to blame than the hourly employees that manufacture these products. I don’t want to believe that. Who in their right mind would want any part of their company to purposely fail? But how can such a shrewd businessman let all of this go on under his nose and be none the wiser?

    I don’t need to quote all AAM and Dauch’s profits,. We have heard it many times. We all know about his large salary, bonuses etc while the company lost 222 million dollars in 2006. We are all aware of the bonuses of Upper Management. But not one of them are willing to take a cut. Do you even consider the consequences your actions are going to have on our families? 3600+ people will lose their homes and maybe even their cars. Some of your employees have spouses or other family members here too. So, in their case you are affecting two salaries in one household. In our situation, my wife has already taken a pay cut similar to the one we have heard you suggest. We simply can’t do it again. I am a forth generation Forge employee. I have worked for your company for 14 years. We have built a life around AAM and our pay. You can’t just take 60% of our pay and benefits and not expect a fight. What is left after I pay benefits with $11.40 an hr? How can I support my family with that? How would you support your family with that? With gas going to $4.00 a gallon, how can I even drive to work on that? With all this said; I have to say I know you have a negative opinion of the hourly worker. You feel that we are all replaceable and dispensable. I can assure you I am not. I am that worker who gives 110%. I go over and beyond. My Supervisors never have to tell me what to do because it is already done. I am never someone who says “that isn’t my job”. I can run and problem solve an Upsetter better than most people on the floor and any Manager that has come through this plant in my 14 yrs. I gave you 14 years of dedicated service and I deserve the respect as such.

    In Solidarity

  10. 10 AmericanDreamer April 15, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Bear with me please. This is not to brag about my life, but to show that we ALL have been duped into following the American Dream, only to be woken up by the Cooporate Nightmare!

    Diary of an American Worker

    1976: 12 years old and I am off to work in the fields detassling. I got to work for a week before the heat got to me. The group leader allowed us to sit on the bus for 1 “round” through the fields without pay. A couple of older kids on the bus messed around and dumped Kool-aid into the water jug. We all got fired for it. $2.00 an hour seemed like SO much back then! The following years I got into better crews and detassled until the year after I graduated. This also allowed me to make connections with farmers. Days spent detassling, nights spend baling hay and shoveling corn. This was the way we were taught to chase the American dream. Work hard, Play harder, and move your way up the pay scale by being a good worker.
    1981: My decision to go to a junior college after graduation made me decide to something that I regret now, but seemed to be the correct thing at the time. I was on the football team for 3 years, but decided to work my senior year to save up for school and to buy a better car. Looking back, I realize how much I missed during my senior year. I worked at a grocery store stocking shelves and bagging groceries. Since the other workers were on sports teams at their school, I had to work all the game and dance nights. But I DID pay my way through college and got away from the $250 beater I was driving.
    1982: I graduated high school! Finally I can start my life! I joined the ranks of young adults going to college. After 3 years of part-time jobs and study, I received an Associate in Business, a Data Processing certificate, and am well on my way to an Associate in Drafting Technology.
    1984: While finishing my schooling, I worked at Nibco. They made gate valves for large oil and water companies. $6.25 is a good wage for a single guy. The problem is that after 9 months of working there, the doors closed.
    I started work at a plastic factory named Ronningen Research. Working on trimming parts, I worked up to operating simple machines. I even got a chance at working in the Computer Aided Design station. Life was good. $5.00 an hour and a tiny bit of insurance, although I never used it. The Steel Workers Union tried to organize, and after the failed attempt, I got let go. Seems that if you didn’t shout against the Union, they assumed you were for it! At the time, I didn’t know enough about it to choose either way so I remained silent.
    I moved on to a small plastic factory in my hometown. $5.00 an hour and hot, dry, hard work. But I did have time to play softball, where I met my future wife. Money was short, times were rough, but I was young enough that I didn’t notice it! Health insurance? I was young and didn’t feel that I NEEDED to worry about that! Talk about naive.
    1987: I worked in a small factory named Shadow Interior that provided padded items for Coachmen R.V. I ran the woodshop and was treated fairly by those that ran the plant. The money was decent, the people friendly, the work challenging. I had just gotten married and was trying to move up the ladder financially so I could provide my wife and I a home for our future children. Times were trying, but we got by. Health care was there if we TRULY need it for life and death situations, as long as we were willing to drain our small savings account to cover it.
    1988: I got an opportunity to move into a position doing drafting work for Coachmen R.V. It seems they paid the factory’s bills and payroll. While we were trying to find ways to make better product and increase efficiency, some of the people in Management had gotten my name from the supervisor at Shadow Interior. I had gone to college for the drafting degree and was just THRILLED to be working in the field I had studied. The money was about the same as before, but I planned on going back to college to complete my training. The job was good, the money decent, the people even friendlier, and once again Health care was there as long as my savings could cover the large deductible. The hours were sort of long, and my drive to work was close to an hour each way. I spent 12-14 hours a day either on my way to work or at work.
    1989: My wife and I discussed buying a house, but our incomes wouldn’t support it. We barely afforded the 2-room apartment we lived in. I wanted to return to college to earn an engineering degree, but didn’t have the money or time. 12-14 hour days don’t allow you time to return to college while you work. As we tossed options back and forth, we decided that I would join the Army to make use of the college fund. After talking to Human Resources at Coachmen, I decided to take a military leave of absence and join. My wife and I had been married all of a year and a half, so leaving was rough on both of us. But as training went on we both coped the best we could. Training was rough, but it provided the satisfaction you get from testing your limits and finding you are capable of more that you thought. As an added benefit, I had gone into Basic at 245 lbs and 7 weeks later I was a slim trim 185. My wife picked me up from the airport before I went to Advanced Training and she walked by me twice before she read my nametag and recognized me! Three years in the army went by fast. I got stuck in Fort Polk, LA. We went to the field 9-10 months out of a year. My confidence grew in leaps and bounds as my friends and I met challenge after challenge. My wife’s confidence grew as she was forced to live alone most of each year. The money was decent, the job was demanding, the people were almost like family, and Health care for ME was great. Any time I got sick or injured the doctors worked hard to get me back to work! For my wife, Health care was so-so. She had some problems that the doctors weren’t interested in. We had decided to try to have children after 2 years of marriage and it hadn’t happened yet. She went to a few doctors but they did minimal testing and seemed puzzled.
    1991 After leaving the Army, I returned to Coachmen R.V. They had computerized all the drafting and engineering areas. I had to return to the assembly floor while I waited for an opening in engineering. This turned out to be good for me as I learned more about how a unit went together. A few months later, I got the chance to move into my old job, but boy had it changed. Before I had been a draftsman. Now my responsibilities were closer to a junior engineer. I no longer drew up plans to things designed by engineers; I was actually responsible for light design work. I was thrilled to work. I spent time in their Viking pop-up camper plant doing design work and working closely with service and purchasing departments. We set up computer systems and did the I.T. work ourselves. When the finance department got a new computer, we all read the manuals and set things up. I was having the time of my life. The work was demanding and varied, the money was good, and the Health care good, and the people were great. Things changed and I returned to Coachmen R.V. to do engineering work. The design work was demanding and I worked long hours again, but was moving up the corporate ladder (or so I thought) but the hours didn’t allow me to return to college as I hoped. The money was there but not the time. We had our first child in 1994 and were desperate to move up in our lives.
    1996: I was offered a job at American Axle and Manufacturing. After 6 months of testing I finally got the job. I was back on the shop floor, working 2nd shift. The job was physically demanding, mentally empty, and rough. I had somehow found my way back up in weight to around 230 lbs. But the thing I enjoyed about this job was the way management spoke of working together. When challenges arose they talked things over with the teams that did the work. We came up with ways to improve our work area, our efficiency, our quality, etc. Every time you talked to them, WE had ownership of our work area. This filled in the missing mental challenge from my last job. I had taken the job because it offered more money with the opportunity to move up the financial ladder. I finally felt I could afford to purchase a house. We bought a small modular home, put it on a basement on land given to us by my parents and were FINALLY living the American dream. We even bought a new car after 2 years. Nothing fancy, but new! We budgeted our money and actually started saving. The Health care was great! We were on an HMO and paid only small co-pays. The only downside was the hours. I was stuck on 2nd shift for 7 years. In the mean time, we had our second child in 1998.
    As time passed, things at American Axle started to become strained. The bosses weren’t asking our advice any more. We were forced to do things that didn’t make much sense. We knew from our experience what wouldn’t work, but they had a high turnover of middle management and they insisted on retrying projects that were tried and failed before. Then we went through a “lean-operations” period. Nothing was sacred as they slashed jobs to spread us thin. We had gone from producing 18000 parts a day on 2 shifts to producing less than 12000 parts a day on 3 shifts all in the name of efficiency. 1 person was expected to run 2 or 3 jobs and our production went down. Management insisted it was because we refused to RUN between jobs, but the jobs could only be run 1 after another. Where before we did one job, checked all our quality on our job and spot checked the jobs before us, now we didn’t have the time to check our quality if we were to get the numbers out that management wanted. Those of us that insisted on making all our quality checks were labeled as troublemakers. We were accused of slowing down production. Management started making bad calls on quality, and for the first time since AAM started our quality dropped. In 2006 we actually got put on business hold for the quality problems we were having. People became frustrated as the mantra of the day became “NUMBERS NUMBERS NUMBERS”. Some bosses insisted that they didn’t worry about quality as long as they got their number for the day. We tried to explain that making 100 parts and having 20 bad parts was worse than making 80 parts and making sure they were good, but they weren’t listening. Management stopped calling our quality department out, making the calls themselves to save time. Many people stopped caring, stating that it didn’t matter. The believed management would cover for the lost quality since they were the ones deciding on numbers. But whenever quality got bad enough, they would write up or walk out a worker. Trust between management and workers was broken. We worked our tails off for over a year and finally got off business hold. Improvements were made to processes to help keep our quality up, but once again they slowed the process down. Facing lower numbers again, management started making decisions to bypass the improvements to speed us up. Today we are fighting with management to use the improvements that brought us out of business hold. The numbers are STILL more important to them than running quality parts.
    2008 UPDATE: We are on strike. It seems that the company we have worked so hard for and made profits for over 14 years (12 years for me) has invested most of that money overseas and in Mexico. Now we are faced with a 60% cut in pay, reduction of benefits, and elimination of most of our rights and rules. We were threatened that they could move everything out of the country if we didn’t comply. I have worked long and hard to get to where I am. We have taken pay freezes for the past 8 years, watched as our benefits were slowly cut year by year, and now are being dealt the final blow. Our pay is almost non-existent; our benefits are barely covering anything unless it is an emergency. I compare my strike pay and benefits to my 1st year of work and they are about the same. The sad thing is, the offer he made us is no better than the strike pay I am receiving! The reward for our loyalty and diligence in improving AAM’s efficiency, quality, and profitability seems to be a swift kick in the pants. 6 weeks into this mess and they STILL insists it is their way or the highway.
    The one bright spot in this is the support shown to our Union by thousands of caring people in the community around us. We are receiving help from hundreds of miles away, getting messages daily from around the country, and our membership is becoming closer every day. We have become a family and are watching our spirits soar while watching a movement in America that shows the caring of people when they recognize oppression. We are standing strong and resolve to continue this fight as long as necessary. Win or lose, at least we can say at the end of the day that our heads were held high. We may be beaten, but will never give up.

    THAT folks is the American Spirit.

    Willie Roop – Striking AAM-TR Autoworker

    And DAMN PROUD!

  11. 11 NORMAN W. JOHNSON April 26, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    IF THE UAW WAS TRULY A DEMOCRATIC UNION THE MEMBERSHIP OR RANK IN FILE WOULD BE ALLOWED TO ELECT THE PRESIDENT OF THE UAW,INSTEAD OF THE WAY IT IS DONE NOW.INSTEAD A MAJORITY OF CRONIES AT INTERNATIONAL OR UAW HDQTRS DECIDE.WHAT IS WRONG WITH ONE MAN ONE VOTE;TO MUCH POWER IS GIVEN A FEW WHO THEN TELL THE MEMBERSHIP THIS IS THE BEST WE CAN DO;LEAVING THEM ONLY TO BE LEFT WITH BEING FAINT OUT OF FEAR.EVEN OUR SO CALLED UNION LEADERS SAY THIS IS A UNION OF CHANGE,SO LETS CHANGE IT.EVEN THROUGH HISTORY KINGS,DICTATORS AND MONARCHIES WILL FIGHT BEFORE THEY RELINQUISH POWER.JUST AS LONG AS THERE IS NO FEAR OF BEING REPLACED[THOSE AT INTERNATIONAL]IT WILL ONLY BE THE MEMBERSHIP WHO WILL BE REPLACED.HISTORIC CONTRACT IS RIGHT,BUT FOR WHO.LET THEM BE ON NOTICE THAT IF YOUR PERFORMANCE IS BAD YOU WILL BE VOTED OUT.LOOK AT THE FORMER SOVIET UNION WHEN IT HAD A POLITBURO ONLY A FEW HAD THE POWER TO ELECT A LEADER FOR THE MASSES,LET US GIVE THE POWER TO THE MEMBERSHIP WHERE IT BELONGS.IF WE HAD THE POWER WE WOULD NOT BE WHERE WE ARE TODAY. ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY. LET US TELL THEM THAT SOLIDARITY HOUSE IS OUR HOUSE AND NOT THE KREMLIN.REMEMBER WHAT FORMER PRESIDENT REAGAN SAID[A.K.A.UNION BUSTER]TEAR THIS WALL. AS GM-FORD AND CHRYSLER RE-STRUCTURE,SO MUST WE.OR PERISH.

  12. 12 NORMAN W. JOHNSON April 26, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    YES REPLYS ARE OK


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