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05. March 2008

Axle-plant strike to idle 1,300 at Powertrain

Toledo (OH, USA) - More than two-thirds of the work force at General Motors Corp.'s Toledo Powertrain plant will be temporarily laid off beginning Monday because a strike at an axle supplier has shut down several GM assembly plants.

Powertrain workers in Toledo were informed yesterday that the plant would suspend production of its four-speed transmission next week, affecting close to 1,300 of the plant's approximately 1,880 employees, GM Powertrain spokesman Wanda Wellman-Montion said.

The stoppage is being blamed on an ongoing strike by the United Auto Workers against American Axle and Manufacturing Holdings Inc., a major supplier to GM.

About 3,600 workers represented by the United Auto Workers at five American Axle plants in Michigan and New York went on strike last week in a contract dispute.

American Axle and the UAW haven't returned to the bargaining table since talks broke off Feb. 25, although both sides have said they're ready to resume at any time.

Laid-off Powertrain workers will be eligible to receive unemployment compensation and supplemental unemployment benefits from the UAW. Ms. Wellman-Montion said it is "difficult to speculate at this point" how long the shutdown will last, but said it will occur even if the UAW and American Axle reach a new agreement before next week.

She said that is "because American Axle will have to fill up their pipeline to our assembly plants" when the strike ends. Workers at GM's Powertrain foundry in Defiance are unaffected so far.

About a third of UAW workers at Toledo Powertrain will remain on the job to work on the launch of the six-speed transmission scheduled to go into production this year.

The rear-wheel-drive, four-speed transmission built at Toledo Powertrain is used in several large GM vehicles including full-sized pickups, vans, and sport utility vehicles.

The transmissions built in Toledo are sent to assembly plants in Fort Wayne; Janesville, Wis.; Moraine, Ohio; Pontiac, Mich.; Shreveport, La.; Wentzville, Mo.; and Tillsonburg, Ont., according to GM.

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