April 28, 2009 / 7:02 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-American Axle to shutter biggest Detroit plant-UAW

* UAW official says plant to close by end July

* Says production moving to Mexico

* Detroit plant has 734 active UAW employees (Adds details of plant closure from UAW official, background, comment from American Axle, stock action)

DETROIT, April 28 (Reuters) - U.S. auto supplier American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc (AXL.N) is set to close the largest axle plant in its Detroit-area manufacturing complex and move production to Mexico, a United Auto Workers union official said on Tuesday.

“People are very upset about losing their jobs,” said UAW Local 235 President Bill Alford. “They’re very upset that a company with the word ‘American’ in its name is moving jobs to Mexico.”

Alford said American Axle had informed the UAW the plant would close by mid-July and production would move to Guanajuato, Mexico, by the end of July.

There are currently 734 active UAW-represented workers employed at the plant, Alford said.

“All of those jobs are going to Mexico,” he said.

The plant produces axles for heavy-duty pickup trucks, he added.

American Axle spokeswoman Renee Rogers said she could not comment on Alford’s statements.

“We have said before that current market conditions will lead to the idling or consolidation of significant portions of our Detroit manufacturing complex,” she said.

Rogers added that new job and production cuts announced this week by American Axle’s biggest customer, General Motors Corp (GM.N), meant the company would have to “continue that process.”

GM accounts for around three-quarters of American Axle’s sales.

The U.S. auto industry and its supplier base have been battered by the worst sales in decades, as the recession and the credit crunch have cut American consumer demand for new cars.

In New York Stock Exchange trading, American Axle shares were up 3 cents, or nearly 3 percent, at $1.06. (Reporting by Nick Carey, editing by Leslie Gevirtz and Maureen Bavdek)

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