American Axle workers face big pay cuts with new contract

BY:Labor Up Front| May 22, 2008
American Axle workers face big pay cuts with new contract

Vol. 1,
Issue 9

goal of Labor Upfront is to provide members and friends with news,
information, and general ways to stay connected with the on-going
struggles of workers. You can also visit our
for further information on the stories in this newsletter and much more!
feel free to forward this to anyone
you feel may benefit, and if you received this from a friend,
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join the list.

Scott Marshall,
Labor Commission Chair

Melissa ORourke, Labor Commission Coordinator, Labor Upfront editor

In This

Axle workers face big pay cuts

Action Alerts:
Working Woman Survey
Zimbabwe Labor
Leaders Arrested

Indian Workers hunger strike enters second week

Clean Car Wash Campaign
Jobs with Justice

Canyon Cover-up

Election 2008: McCain
Revealed kicks into high gear
, new

Union Jobs
(still more needed!)

American Axle
workers face big pay cuts with new contract
After three months out on the picket line,
the workers at American Axle finally have a contract to vote on.  CEO
Dick Dauch made known from the start that he wanted severe pay and
benefit cuts in order to remain competitive, and that the workers
would suffer for it.  Even though he got a 9% raise this year and over
the past decade has received over $257 million in compensation, and the
company made a profit of $37 million last year, the workers are
expected to ratify a contract that cuts their wages by over 33% and
increases their health care costs.  The deal also will shut down both
the Detroit and Tonawanda Forges and offer buyouts and buydowns. Below
is the average pay breakdown for production workers for both their
current and new contracts:

Currently         New Contract
$28/hr            $18.50/hr
$1120/wk        $740/wk
$58,240/yr      $38,480/yr

This means a pay cut of $380 a
week, $1647 a month and $19,760 a year.
  The saddest part
is that the UAW had to fight to keep the cuts at this level, rather
than the over 50% cuts American Axle demanded.  New production hires
will be paid $11.50 per hour, twice a year theyll get an extra $.50 an
hour raise, until after 10 years they might make what their co-workers
make.  For some people $18.50 may seem like great money, but when that
pay rate is $1650 a month less than what youve been living on, based
your mortgage, car payments, kids college tuition, and all your other
living expenses on, its devastating.  At a time when foreclosure
rates, personal debt, and the cost of living are skyrocketing, the last
thing workers need is a drastic cut in pay.  Does anyone really wonder
why Michigan has the highest foreclosure and crime rates, along with
the fastest growing population of residents receiving food stamps?

According to Wall Street, the labor costs are still too high. 
Financial firm Lehman Brothers projects that 1,200 of the 3,650
striking employees will opt for buyouts or early retirements.  Those
employees will ‘not be replaced in the U.S. but in Mexico,’ wrote
analyst Brian Johnson in a note to investors.  Earlier this week Dauch
announced plans to expand in India and Thailand; perhaps they should
change their name to Asian Axle as they abandon their workers in the

‘It’s not a good agreement, but at this juncture it’s the best we could
do,’ said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. After weeks at the
negotiating table, he said he didn’t think that more negotiations would
net a better contract, so the contract goes to membership and will now
be up to the workers to decide their fates.  After 11 weeks on
the strike line, during which American Axle shifted work to Mexico,
seem glad to still have a job.

Action Alerts
Chinese workers
assistance and show of solidarity

We received this note from a friend of ours in Florida and thought the
idea was so great we needed to share it.

Hi Labor UpFront,
It seems now would be a good time to push for more of a bridge between
US labor and Chinese labor. We could ask them if there is a way we can
help. The city of Dujiangyan was under a different name when I was 6
years old, and I did not realize for a couple of days in this crisis,
that in the news I was seeing the town we lived in for 2 1/2 years,
mid-’48 to beginning of ’51. (I was gone much of that time to a
boarding school for missionary kids, but still have some memories of
what used to be called Guan Xian.)
We do not have any more meetings of our local this school year, but I
am going to take it up with officers and our delegation to the NEA,
which meets in DC July 1-6. I am not a delegate to the AFT which meets
a couple of weeks later in Chicago, but I will try to see if someone in
the AFT will raise it. I am interested in hearing other labor folks
thoughts on this. Not only is this important worker to worker help but
it can help us build workers of the world unite badly needed in this
time of corporate globalization.
In solidarity,
John Streater

Woman Survey

Working America and the AFL-CIO are conducting a nationwide survey on
what it’s like to be a working woman. If youre a working woman, your
opinion matters greatly. Please take a moment to complete the Ask a Working Woman survey and
your thoughts and experiences. 

The results of this survey have never been more important. Womens
rights and labor organizations will use the results to advocate for
women across the country over the next two years. Your voice matters.
We want to hear from you (or the women in your life).

And if youre not a working woman, forward this link to your sister, your
mother, your co-workers and your friends to make sure their voices are

International Labor News
Zimbabwe Labor Leaders

From the IUF:
In the ongoing post-election repression of the democracy movement and
workers and trade unionists in particular, Lovemore Motombo and
Wellington Chibebe, respectively President and General Secretary of the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), were arrested on May 8 and
charged with ‘inciting people to rise against the government and
reporting falsehoods about people being killed’ for speaking out on May
Day about the country’s political crisis and the growing repression of
the opposition to Mugabe.

The IUF and unions internationally are calling for messages to the
government of Zimbabwe demanding their immediate and unconditional
release. In view of the extreme violence which has been frequently
inflicted on union leaders and activists, the IUF considers the
government responsible for the physical safety and well being of the
arrested ZCTU leaders.

You can take action by following suggestions from the IUF here,
or through Amnesty Internationals campaign here.

Indian Workers enter their
second week of hunger strike

From DC Metro Council’s
Union City
: More Indian workers joined a hunger strike – now in its
seventh day – at a noontime rally held earlier today near the Capitol
Reflecting Pool to demand that Congress hold hearings on abuses of
workers under the guest worker program. The rally also marked the
launch of solidarity fasts in DC and India by supporters of the
workers’ struggle. Following the rally, a delegation of workers and
supporters delivered letters asking House and Senate representatives to
pressure the Department of Justice to protect the workers during an
ongoing criminal anti-trafficking investigation against their former
employer Signal International, a marine construction

The workers walked off the job in March and began a truth-action tour
to protest and expose Signals human trafficking violations and worker
abuse through President Bush’s H2B visa guest worker program. In late
2006, the workers mortgaged their futures and $20,000 on false
promises of fortune and green cards by recruiters from Signal. But when
the workers arrived in the US to work on post-Katrina reconstruction,
they only received guestworker visas and were forced to pay Signal
$1,050 a month to live in a trailer with 23 other workers. At a time
when 30 percent of New Orleans workers were looking for work, the
government suspended a law that made it illegal to hire undocumented
workers, says NOWCRJ Organizer Saket Soni. The guestworker program is
designed to control labor. It sanctions forced labor by migrants and
further disenfranchises the most vulnerable American workers. The
hunger strike will specifically call on the Department of Justice to
prosecute Signal International and for Congress to hold hearings on the
guest worker program in the post-Katrina Gulf Coast.

Click here to
urge your Representatives in Congress to sign onto a letter calling for
them to remain in the U.S. and to hold hearings on Signal
Click here for other ways to
support the workers’ struggle.

U.S. Labor News
Clean Car Wash Campaign
With some 18,000 carwasheros in Southern California making $50 a day
or less, the United Steelworkers (USW), the AFL-CIO and a coalition of
community organizations have teamed up to launch a campaign to clean
up Los Angeles multimillion dollar carwash industry.  The
Community-Labor-Environmental Action Network (CLEAN) is supporting the
union organizing efforts of the Carwash Workers Organizing Committee of
the United Steelworkers (CWOC).

María Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles
County Federation of Labor, said, For too long, carwash owners have
operated in the shadows, violating labor and health and safety laws
with impunity. This coalition is going to do some spring cleaning of a
dirty industry, and bring these injustices out into the open.

The CWOC released a report entitled Cleaning
Up the Car Wash Industry: Empowering Workers and Protecting Communities
which confirms that Los Angeles carwash owners are often operating
below the radar of labor, health and safety, and environmental laws. 

For more information, check out the USW campaign site here.

Jobs with Justice Conference
From May 2-4, nearly 1,000 Jobs with Justice activists came together in
Providence, RI, including rank-and-file union members, students,
international delegates, and members of community and faith-based
organizations, as well as workers centers. In total, the Conference
hosted representatives from 32 local JwJ coalitions and organizing
committees, 34 states and the District of Columbia, 44 organizations,
and several countries: Brazil, Colombia, France, Hong Kong, India,
Indonesia and South Korea.

It was refreshing to hear the optimism in the voices of all the
participants, and the level of the use of the term working class, and
in the twisted and divisive way the medias using it right now.  This
conference was not about debating or simply talking about issues, it
was about mobilizing to fight.  It was about building a movement to
take us in the direction of real change, to strengthen support for real
legislation for working people in this country and around the world.  

The plenaries focused on celebrating victories and exploring new
trends; building power for social and economic justice; and an
international dialogue on the labor movement as a political force and
social movement.  Some of the focal points of workshops and half-day
issue forums were organizing for support for the Employee Free Choice
Act and increased labor organizing; immigration and trade; health care;
and community and coalition building.

The conference was also host to a strategy session addressing the needs
and issues of young workers, and how to fill the national void that
exists in young worker organizing.  Young workers, organized and
unorganized, discussed the relationship between the younger generations
and the labor movement, how to bridge the gap, and the need to build
and strengthen youth leadership within labor. Read more about it here.

Reps cite criminal
cover-up in deadly Utah mine blasts

By John Wojcik
WASHINGTON–Top company officials at the Crandall Canyon Mine in
Huntington, Utah, where nine miners perished in August 2007, concealed
facts that would have prevented the deaths and should be criminally
charged, according to a Congressional report released May 8. The report
also charged that the company should never have asked the government
for permission to remove coal from the area of the mine collapse and
federal officials should never have approved the request.

House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.)
formally asked the Justice Department, in an April 29 letter attached
to the report, to investigate the two blasts at the mine. The first
trapped and killed six miners and the second killed three rescuers,
including a Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) inspector.

The letter from Miller urges the Justice Department to determine
whether the mine manager, Laine W. Adair, on his own or in collusion
with the owner, Murray Energy Corp., made intentionally false
statements to government officials about the condition of the mine
before the August disaster. The report issued by Millers committee
says the false statements were indeed made by company reps.  Article
continues here.

Election ’08
McCain Revealed kicks
into high gear, door-to-door mobilization
McCain Chicago ProtestFrom the AFL-CIO
Hundreds of union members launched the biggest union mobilization yet
in the 2008 political season with the first round of door-to-door
walks, part of the AFL-CIO Labor 2008 political mobilization program.
Union volunteers in more than 20 states shared information on key
working family issues, like health care and the economy, reaching
thousands of union members in states such as Indiana, New Hampshire,
Colorado, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Ohio. The walks will continue in
coming months as millions of union members mobilize to elect a working
family-friendly president and Congress.

Above Photo: As John McCain comes to town to speak
at the convention center, union members in Chicago greet him to give a
reminder that working Americans demand real health care solutions and
job creation. Photo credit: Scott Marshall

Endorsements Update:
Over the past few weeks the Obama campaign received even more boosts
with the endorsement announcements of former Presidential candidate and
Senator John Edwards, and labor unions American Federation of
Government Employees (AFGE), the United Steelworkers (USW), and todays
endorsement of the United Mineworkers of America (UMWA).

Union Jobs (We need more

We’ve gotten an increasing number of responses in the call for union
job listings, more than we can list anymore. For the sake of space and
ease, we’ll list cities and industries, and for further information
please contact me,
Chicago: IBEW: further info is available at
Chicago Education-to-Careers:
Dallas: Jobs at IBT and UAW represented facilities

There is also a website, that
lists union
jobs, including staff, trades and apprenticeships, by state.

Keep them coming!!!!
  In an effort to assist young
workers in finding decent-paying union jobs, Im requesting that anyone
who knows of job openings or apprenticeships, in all fields and across
the country, please forward that information to

To remove your name from our mailing list, please e-mail

We welcome questions, comments and stories for our next
.  Send them to us at
or call (773)
446-9920, ext. 212.



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