After 6 weeks of strike American Axle and UAW are bargaining again

From Reuters (4/9/08)

DETROIT, April 9 (Reuters) - American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc (AXL.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and the United Auto Workers resumed full bargaining on Wednesday to try to reach an agreement to end a 6-week strike at five unionized plants in the United States.

American Axle spokeswoman Renee Rogers said the talks resumed on Wednesday morning, but said she did not know how long the meeting was expected to last. A UAW representative could not be reached immediately for comment on Wednesday's meeting.

The union and the parts supplier on Monday agreed to resume full negotiations that were stalled for nearly a month while the two sides sparred over financial details and American Axle's demands for steep wage and benefit cuts.

The decision to restart full talks came after a meeting between American Axle Chief Executive Dick Dauch and UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, who had not met face-to-face since negotiations began in December.

About 3,650 UAW-represented workers at American Axle went on strike Feb. 26. The stoppage has forced General Motors Corp (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research), American Axle's main customer at about 80 percent of revenue, to idle production at least partially at 30 facilities.

GM resumed some production of full-sized pickup trucks this week in Indiana. It expects to resume some pickup production in Ontario for three weeks later in April, while idling full-sized SUV production at a Texas plant for the same period.

American Axle has said total wages and benefits run more than $70 per hour, about three times higher than its rivals, and it will be forced to close the five striking plants if it cannot obtain concessions from the union.

During the period when talks stagnated over the past month, the union had said American Axle failed to provide enough details to evaluate the cost-cutting demands. The company gave the UAW more financial information last week at the union's request.

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From The Associated press (4/9/08) :
UAW gives economic proposal to American Axle as strike continues
Associated Press - April 9, 2008 9:04 PM ET

DETROIT (AP) - The United Auto Workers have given American Axle and Manufacturing Holdings a proposal dealing with economic issues.

UAW Local 235 President Adrian King says he can't give details of the proposal, but he's waiting for a response from the company.

However, American Axle spokeswoman Renee Rogers said the company had not received a proposal from the union as of this evening but expects to get one.

The proposal comes as formal negotiations resume for the first time since March 10th.
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