An arbitrator has ruled that Detroit-based American Axle and Manufacturing Holdings Inc. violated a job security clause in its 2008 collective bargaining agreement with the United Auto Workers by outsourcing axle production from Detroit to Mexico.
The UAW's ranks at American Axle's 2.4 million-square-foot Detroit manufacturing complex have been slashed over the last few years as the supplier moved much of its axle production work at the Detroit complex to sites in Mexico.
Umpire Paul Glendon ordered American Axle and the UAW to determine how many workers were affected by the outsourcing of American Axle's 8.25 axle to plants in Mexico, including the number of UAW workers laid-off by the outsourcing. Glendon, who was hired by both the UAW and American Axle in this dispute, declined to comment on the details of his ruling.
The UAW and the company also must determine how much the workers are due in wages and benefits, according to a UAW statement.
David Tworek, communications manager for American Axle, was unavailable for comment Friday.
It's also unclear how much of American Axle's Detroit complex is operational.
Tworek told Crain's Detroit Business earlier this week that two plants in the complex were running but declined to say how much those plants represented in terms of capacity at the Detroit complex. American Axle officials have denied requests for the number of employees actively working at the Detroit complex. Crain's Detroit Business and Automotive News are owned by Crain Communications Inc.
UAW members at American Axle ratified a collective bargaining agreement in May 2008 after a bitter, three-month strike over wage and benefit cuts demanded by the company.
At the time, UAW Local 235 in Hamtramck had nearly 2,000 active members working at the Detroit complex.
Part of the agreement included commitments by American Axle about where specific products would be built, and the company agreed not to outsource work it had guaranteed for the Detroit complex, according to the UAW's statement.
"We will be working hard to ensure that every UAW member at the Detroit Axle plant affected by this decision gets everything they are entitled to, including back wages, other benefits and recall from layoff," Jimmy Settles, UAW vice president and head of the union's American Axle department, said in a statement.