American Axle local approves contract, ends strike

American Axle local approves contract, ends strike
HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (AP) - Workers from the largest union local at American Axle and Manufacturing Holdings Inc. approved a new contract Thursday, ending a nearly three-month-old strike.

The United Auto Workers local voted in favor of the deal, assuring it will pass, said Erik Webb, election committee co-chairman for Local 235. The vote means American Axle workers will return to work, though the date is unknown.

Local 235 has more than half of the 3,650 UAW members who have been on strike since Feb. 26. Workers at two New York factories and another plant in Michigan already have approved the deal, which includes steep wage cuts and other concessions.

American Axle has said it needs a wage structure that is competitive with other U.S. auto parts makers so it can earn new business.

Webb said 1,172 of the local's 1,983 members voted yes. He would not give the total number of no votes or exact turnout but said more than 1,500 workers voted.

Local 235 shop chairman Dana Edwards said union members didn't have much choice but to accept the proposed contract.

"I think with the economy the way it is, with the truck sales the way it is, I feel that's what people thought they had to do," Edwards said.

American Axle makes axles, drive shafts and stabilizer bars, mainly for General Motors Corp.'s pickup trucks and large sport utility vehicles. GM accounts for about 80 percent of its business.

The strike forced GM to cut production at or temporarily close more than 30 factories, crippling output of pickups and SUVs. It also caused thousands of layoffs at GM and other auto parts suppliers.