UAW Expecting American Axle Plant Closure

Union president "not giving up" on Buffalo

April 15, 2007 — American Axle & Manufacturing is preparing to close its Buffalo plant, according to the United Autoworkers union, which represents workers at the plant. AA&M has declined to comment on the report, which emerged from statements by the UAW leadership during an online forum on Thursday.

The UAW president Ron Gettelfinger revealed the news, but added that "we are in negotiations in an attempt to have new work brought into the plant." Gettelfinger continued: "We recognize this is a difficult challenge, but we are not giving up on this effort."

In a January 11 news release, AA&M announced plans to idle a portion of its U.S. production capacity dedicated to the mid-size light truck product range. The Buffalo plant produces drivetrain components for pick-ups and SUVS, mostly for General Motors Corp. vehicles. Local reports estimate the plant's workforce at 650. The company also has plants in nearby Cheektowaga and Tonawanda, NY.

American Axle instituted a buyout program last fall, at the time saying it was trying “to realign (its) production capacity and cost structure to current and projected operational and market requirements.” The buyouts resulted in nearly 1,500 employee severances, and it was at the conclusion of that effort that AA&M indicated it was planning "other capacity rationalization initiatives."

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