OPINION

Dauch sends wrong signals as Axle strike drags

Richard E. Dauch is one of most respected executives in the automotive supply chain. He has always worked with his stakeholders to make the company he co-founded — American Axle & Manufacturing — an exemplary supplier. By taking over and improving a troubled General Motors operation, he created a lot of value and saved a lot of jobs for GM workers.

That's why it is hard to understand his company's strategy one month into the bitter strike by the UAW that has shut down five American Axle plants and brought General Motors' truck production to a near standstill in the United States.

Dauch is asking hourly workers to take significant pay cuts and make concessions for his company, which is still profitable. Meanwhile, Dauch and his top three executives all took increases in their base pay and total compensation. Dauch's base salary — not including millions of dollars in stock options and incentives — rose 9.6 percent last year.

Giving yourself a raise while asking your workers to cut their pay in half is a slap in the face. It's wrong — and foolhardy — to ask workers to make sacrifices unless you are willing to share in that sacrifice.

Dauch also took a trip to his Florida vacation home a few weeks ago while negotiations were going on and his employees walked a picket line in the snow.

These are horrible messages to send to your stakeholders — and not just the union. How can Dauch justify all this to GM, his largest customer, which as of last week had lost production of 78,592 vehicles because of the strike against Dauch's company?

This is a new era in which management and labor must be partners if their companies are to survive and thrive. Equality of sacrifice must be the new ground rule, not just a slogan to entice workers to give up pay and benefits.

That's something American Axle and the rest of the industry ought to understand by now.

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