American Axle Deal Restarts GM Plants

Wage cuts, buyouts, buydowns, plant closings a bitter pill for workers
By Jim O'Neill,  Newser User
Posted May 19, 2008 7:52 AM CDT
United Auto Workers member Gary Reed carries a strike sign outside a union meeting in Detroit, Sunday.   (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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(Newser) – General Motors is poised to resume production at dozens of idled plants as workers at American Axle & Manufacturing, a key GM supplier, have reached a tentative deal in their 11-week-old strike. The UAW strike had all but stopped the production of GM's highly profitable SUVs, pickups, and vans, reports the Wall Street Journal, sinking the automaker's first-quarter earnings and undermining its liquidity.

The deal was reached a few days after GM offered American Axle $200 million to help fund buyouts. American Axle was seeking sharp reductions in labor costs; the new contract cuts wages about $10 an hour, providing buyouts for employees leaving the payroll and “buydowns” for workers who stay at the lower wage. Workers will vote today and Thursday.