NEW YORK (AP) -- American Axle & Manufacturing Inc. plans to shutter the largest plant at its Detroit manufacturing complex and move production to Mexico, a union official said Tuesday.
Bill Alford, president of UAW Local 235, said officials for the auto supplier told the union that the plant will close this summer, resulting in the elimination of several hundred jobs.
Alford said that all of the manufacturing complex's about 1,000 union workers be laid off for about eight weeks this summer as a result of General Motors Corp.'s plans for its own extended summer shutdown.
When American Axle's shutdown is over, only about 230 jobs will remain and the plant's production will be shifted to the company's Guanajuato Manufacturing Complex in Mexico, he said.
American Axle spokeswoman Renee Rogers would not say whether the Detroit plant would be shuttered.
"As we have said in the past, (American Axle) is idling and consolidating significant potions of its Detroit manufacturing complex to meet the changing needs of its customer base," Rogers said.
Detroit-based American Axle has struggled recently in the face of declining production at the U.S.-based automakers, including General Motors Corp., which represents the bulk of its sales. The company has also been hurt by the shift in consumer preferences away from the light trucks and sport utility vehicles it once focused on toward smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.
In March, American Axle's auditors raised doubts about the company's ability to continue operations, citing the uncertainty surrounding the futures of GM and Chrysler LLC, which together account for about 84 percent of the company's sales.
The company eliminated about 3,000 jobs last year and posted a 2008 loss of $1.22 billion. In addition, American Axle was crippled by a nearly three-month-long United Auto Workers union strike in the first half of the year that shut down most of its operations.
Rogers said Tuesday that American Axle remains focused on making the labor costs at all of its facilities market competitive, noting that labor costs at the Detroit facilities are significantly higher than those across the state at the company's Three Rivers, Mich. facility.
Alford said the union plans to file a grievance over the job cuts, claiming that they violate their labor agreement.