The United Auto Workers union is claiming a major victory after it said an arbitrator ruled that American Axle & Manufacturing violated its contract by moving most axle work from its Detroit plant to Mexico.
Citing a violation of job security clauses in its 2008 contract with the company, the UAW said the auto supplier will have to "make whole" workers who were affected.
Terms of the agreement resulted in the closing in 2008 of American Axle plants in the Town of Tonawanda and Buffalo, and the loss of about 1,200 jobs.
The Detroit-based company did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
"This is a major victory for these workers, and we're very gratified that the umpire upheld our strong outsourcing language reached in the 2008 agreements," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said in a statement Thursday. "Our American Axle members went on strike for three months in part to win this measure of job security."
The 2008 labor contract was signed after a bitter three-month strike involving more than 3,600 UAW-represented workers at five American Axle plants.
Workers protested wage cuts of about $10 an hour and benefit reductions but ultimately ratified a deal that made those cuts, fewer vacation days, shorter breaks and eliminated about 2,000 hourly jobs.
American Axle continues to operate a small machining plant in Cheektowaga, which has fewer than 100 employees.
Less than a year after the contract went into effect, the company sought additional concessions at its Detroit plant.
When that effort failed, a large portion of the axle work was moved from there to a plant in Mexico.