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The 2008 American Axle workers strike

In 2008, 3,600 workers at auto parts supplier American Axle & Manufacturing in Michigan and New York struck from February 26 through May 23, against a threatened 50 percent wage cut–from $28 to $14 per hour.

Workers were in a battle against not just their employer, but against an ongoing pattern of wage-cutting contracts imposed by the United Auto Workers union. The strike took place soon after the UAW first imposed a two-tier structure at Ford, GM and Chrysler in late 2007, and one year before an expanded two-tier wage, set at 50 percent of standard base pay, was imposed for all new hires in the Obama administration's forced bankruptcy and restructuring of Chrysler and General Motors in 2009.

American Axle workers on strike in Detroit, 2008 (WSWS Photo)

Shortly after the strike began, American Axle CEO Richard Dauch threatened to close his US plants and shift production to Mexico and other low-wage countries if workers did not accept his demands. Since the UAW fully accepts and defends the capitalist system, it had no answer to this economic blackmail.

After isolating the strike for 87 days with strike pay of just $200 per week, the UAW forced through a sellout contract that slashed wages from $28 an hour to $18.50, and in some locations as low as $10 an hour, setting a new benchmark in the permanent lowering of wages across the auto industry. Dauch claimed the deal had reduced labor costs by 50 percent.

American Axle workers on strike in Detroit, 2008 (WSWS Photo)

The Detroit-Hamtramck factory was in operation for more than 90 years. Before the strike it employed 2,200 workers, but just 300 remained by the time it finally closed in February 2012, at the conclusion of the sellout contract.

The plant was demolished in 2013.

American Axle Detroit-Hamtramck complex under demolition, November 3, 2013 (WSWS Photo)
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