I have written tons of letters and blogs the past few months but I have been so overwhelmed with this that I really wasn’t sure of my thoughts.

I have been quite vocal and supportive of my husband and the union employees. I have written probably a hundred letters to anybody I can think of and some influential people many times. I have gone to every rally. The wrath of Dauch [American Axle CEO Dick Dauch] can be explained as demoralizing, heartbreaking, and has put a never-ending stress on everyone associated with it. It is discouraging to receive such a “slap in the face” after 13 weeks on strike.

I never thought that we would be in the situation that we are in right now. Fourteen years ago I felt blessed when my husband (then boyfriend) started at AAM [American Axle Manufacturing]. He was a fourth-generation employee with many uncles, cousins, aunts and even friends there. Most of them retired from this plant successfully. I thought this was the place that would always supply us with a roof over our heads, the ability to support a family and raise our girls all the way through college.

This contract is an insult. However, I believe if the men and women of AAM don’t accept it they will never see another dime. He [Dauch] has us between a rock and a hard place.

Now, on paper, we will not be able to pay all our bills. With this new contract, Dauch has taken the equivalent of one and a half house payments from us monthly. We also have to pay for benefits, further reducing our income. The buydown or buyout only compensates for three years. What do we do after that? I really don’t know what we are going to do yet. We talk about it every day and find there just isn’t enough.

What good is talking dollar amounts when we can become just another statistic and lose our home? The fact is that my husband’s pension is frozen, even if he does return. It isn’t enough for the 14 years of dedicated and backbreaking service my husband gave. When I say backbreaking I mean it. My husband has injured his back a few times. The first time was three days before our wedding when he had to be taken out of work on a stretcher. The AAM doctor has said if he does it again it will require surgery. This makes it difficult to find another job too.

I truly can’t understand how Dauch can offer these insulting buydowns and buyouts while continuing to sleep at night. How can a man that had so much compassion and good words for the American worker turn into such a heartless and vengeful man?
I find it hard to stomach that he can look at himself in the mirror every day knowing that there are more than 3,600 families fighting to stay alive out here all because of his greed and lust for power. Ideally, I would love for my husband to take the buyout and kiss AAM goodbye. I don’t want my husband to work for a man who has no compassion for his employees or their families. I don’t want to live every day wondering whether my husband is still going to have a job and at what wage. Will anything like this happen again in four years? Do we want to be around to find out? These past 13 weeks have been the most trying thing we have gone through together and no matter what happens it is going to be a long time before we are able to get past this financial and emotional mess he has thrown us into.

I would like to say I was overwhelmed and thankful for all the support people have given to my husband and the union employees of AAM. I have seen much generosity from many UAW locals. They supplied food, money, and I even saw words of encouragement on their signs as I drove past union halls. I have had friends offer to help us financially, bring dinner over and just send e-mails or call making sure we were OK.

I even received words of encouragement from strangers when they would see or hear my husband was an AAM employee. This just shows that there are still people out there who care and who have compassion. Knowing that they are there helps us along the way.

— J.G., Belleville, Mich.

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