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Reports GM to Cut 15 Percent of Salaried Workforce; Nissan Offers Buyouts

July 30, 2008
Related Topics: Career Development, Downsizing, Employee Career Development, Workforce Planning, Latest News
General Motors refuses to confirm or deny reports that it will cut 15 percent of its salaried workers in the U.S. and Canada by November 1.

The Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal reported the cuts Wednesday, July 30.

GM announced July 15 that reductions in salaried workers, coupled with the elimination of health care coverage for U.S. white-collar retirees, would result in $1.5 billion savings in 2009. That equates to about a 20 percent cut in salaried pay and benefit expenses, GM said.

All told, GM plans to cut $10 billion in cash expenses next year.

Nissan North America Inc. will offer voluntary buyouts to workers at its two Tennessee factories to counter slow sales of full-sized pickups and SUVs.

Technicians and salaried employees at the Smyrna assembly and Decherd powertrain plants will be eligible for lump-sum payments of $100,000 to $125,000, depending on tenure, plus medical and car purchase benefits, Nissan said in a statement Wednesday.

Nissan said the buyouts were necessary to adjust to a “dramatic slowdown” in truck and SUV sales as a result of rising fuel prices and the downturn in the U.S. economy. About 5,500 hourly and salaried employees work at the Smyrna plant. Another 1,100 work at the Decherd factory.

“It’s the realities of the market. Looking at it, we decided we had about 1,200 employees in excess,” Nissan spokesman Fred Standish told Automotive News.

The Smyrna plant will eliminate its night-shift truck production effective August 11. That plant produces the Frontier pickup, Altima sedan and coupe, Xterra SUV, Maxima sedan and Pathfinder SUV.

“The marketplace is changing, and Nissan’s North American manufacturing operations must change with it to remain competitive,” said Bill Krueger, Nissan senior vice president of manufacturing, purchasing and supply chain management for the Americas.

The buyouts will span three years, and employees can choose to participate in the fiscal year that begins April 1 of 2008, 2009 or 2010. The election period for 2008 ends September 12. Employees can sign up again in 2009 or 2010, but their benefits will be reduced.

The buyouts will not affect employees at Nissan’s assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi.

Nissan earlier announced that it would eliminate one shift of Titan pickup and Armada SUV production in Canton and add a third shift of Altima production at Canton.

Filed by Andrew Grossman and April Wortham of Automotive News, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

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