American Axle contract detailed

From the Associated Press

American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. workers Sunday were getting details of a tentative contract that could settle an 11-week strike by the United Auto Workers union.

Workers gathered at a high school to hear information about Friday's agreement.

A summary distributed by the union included base pay of $18.50 per hour for Detroit workers. That's a cut from $28 per hour for production workers, but better than the $17 per hour the auto parts supplier had been offering.

The summary also said there was a $5,000 bonus for signing the contract. And buyouts being offered include $85,000 for someone with less than 10 years with the company and $140,000 for a worker with more.

An offer of a $55,000 early retirement bonus also was included in the proposed contract.

Non-core workers -- those who aren't involved in actual manufacturing -- would be paid $14.35 per hour, according to the summary.

American Axle confirmed Friday night that both sides had agreed on a deal. UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said in a statement late Friday that the American Axle bargaining committee voted to recommend the agreement to members.

The agreement, which still must be voted on by about 3,600 workers at five plants in New York and Michigan, includes the closure of American Axle's Detroit and Tonawanda, N.Y., forge operations.

The deal could end a bitter strike that has dragged on since Feb. 26, crippling production at about 30 General Motors Corp. assembly plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and causing thousands of layoffs at other parts supply companies.

It took an offer of a $200-million infusion from General Motors this month to help reach the agreement. Workers on the picket lines in Detroit have been hoping for a settlement since General Motors' surprise announcement that it would throw in the money, allowing American Axle to increase its offer.

Detroit-based American Axle makes axles, drive shafts and stabilizer bars mainly for large GM sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks.

General Motors accounts for 80% of business at American Axle, which was formed from parts plants sold by GM in 1994.

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