American Axle & Manufacturing’s Tonawanda Forge Facility will receive $1 million in training funds through the pending 2006-07 legislative state budget that is being passed this week in Albany, Assemblyman Robin Schimminger announced today.
“In view of the turmoil surrounding the domestic auto industry, with Delphi’s bankruptcy filing and the planned restructuring by General Motors, I’m pleased that the Assembly has once again been able to provide critically needed workforce training assistance to the Tonawanda Forge plant,” said Assemblyman Schimminger. “American Axle has invested nearly $200 million in the Town of Tonawanda forging operation, and its new machining subsidiary in Cheektowaga, since acquiring the plant from General Motors in 1994. For American Axle to remain a key player in a highly competitive global market and retain manufacturing jobs for the local economy, workforce skills must be upgraded on an ongoing basis in order to efficiently and safely operate new equipment and technology.”
Schimminger noted that the plant’s workforce development initiative has been developed and run jointly by Tonawanda Forge plant management and UAW Local 846 and IAM DS-490, which together represent the approximately 600 hourly workers at the facility. “This is a true labor-management partnership to provide Tonawanda Forge’s associates the skills and knowledge required to stay safe and perform at a high level in a very competitive business,” said Schimminger. “It evolved from the need to initially train a substantially new workforce, as many former GM workers opted to retire or relocate to another GM facility after American Axle purchased the plant, and continually upgrade their skills as new technologies and manufacturing processes have been implemented.”
In his capacity as chairman of the Assembly Committee on Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry, Schimminger has been able to earmark more than $6.4 million in job training funds for the Tonawanda auto parts plant since 1999.
American Axle & Manufacturing Inc. was formed in 1994 and acquired several GM Saginaw Division plants being divested by the automaker in Michigan and Western New York, including Tonawanda Forge and the Buffalo Gear & Axle Facility on E. Delevan Avenue. The company now has 17 manufacturing, engineering and sales operations in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Europe and Asia, and supplies gears, axles, steering linkages and other driveline and chassis components primarily for GM trucks and SUVs. It has won an increasing share of new business from other domestic and foreign automakers in recent years. The Tonawanda, Buffalo and Cheektowaga facilities employ 2,100 people locally, representing more than one-fifth of the region’s 10,000 auto industry jobs.