Jul 18, 2011
On June 30, American Axle Manufacturing told its Detroit factory workers that the plant would close, and work would be moved to company plants in Indiana and Mexico.
The master plan is really about cutting wages. AAM boss Dick Dauch demanded that workers take cuts below the level of its competitor, Dana Corp. The plant would close, he said, but not right away – not until next February, when the UAW contract there ends. That was his way of saying it wouldn’t close – if the workers give even more concessions.
Workers at AAM have a long history of voting heavily against concessions, sometimes rejecting them by an outright majority. And in 2008, Detroit AAM workers struck for three months in the dead of winter, rather than give in without a fight. When the strike was lost, AAM imposed deep wage and benefit cuts, took away many seniority and health and safety protections, cut dozens of jobs, and pushed a massive speed-up. Now AAM wants even more blood. As a worker told the news, “It seems no matter how much we give this guy, it’s never enough.”
It’s true that giving up more is never a solution. But letting a plant close, without other jobs to go to, is no solution either.
There is a solution but it has not been tried for a long time. Like any other company, AAM cannot live without its production. Workers at all of Dauch’s plants could choose delegates to meet together and work out plans to stop everything, everywhere, until each and every job is preserved.
Yes, it would be hard to get this started. Yes, it would take organizing, above and beyond what we are used to. But then – nothing that we are used to is working.