American Axle to Close Remaining WNY Plant

August 18, 2011 Updated Aug 18, 2011 at 11:36 PM EDT

By John Borsa

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August 18, 2011 Updated Aug 18, 2011 at 11:36 PM EDT

CHEEKTOWAGA, NY (WKBW) - American Axle and Manufacturing announced Thursday that its only remaining plant in Western New York will close in February.

A company spokesperson called the decision difficult but necessary.

"I guess today there was a series of town hall meetings that have confirmed that will in fact happen, I guess your facility will close down on or before Feb. 26 of next year," said Alisa Priddle, reporter for the Detroit Free Press.

86 hourly and salaried workers will lose their jobs.

The company and auto workers union were in the middle of contract negotiations at the plant, but the company's latest "best and final offer" was turned down by workers.

No announcement has been made on where the plant's work will end up, but it will likely go overseas.

"Suppliers are trying to make less of their product in North America if they think that labor costs are higher and their just really trying to consolidate what they have in the U.S.," said Priddle.

American Axle once operated three plants in the area; including Buffalo and Tonawanda and employed almost 2,000 workers.