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GM Says 7,500 Hourly Workers Accept Latest Buyout

The buyouts are part of GM’s attempt to reduce costs while convincing a U.S. auto task force that it merits $16.6 billion in additional federal aid. They will also allow the company to hire any new workers at lower wages.

March 26, 2009
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General Motors said about 7,500 hourly workers accepted the automaker’s latest buyout offers, bringing the total to more than 60,000 during the past three years.

Most will leave the company around April 1.

The buyouts are part of GM’s attempt to reduce costs while convincing a U.S. auto task force that it merits $16.6 billion in additional federal aid. They will also allow the company to hire any new workers at lower wages.

“The Special Attrition Program, along with the many difficult but necessary actions we have taken in recent months, will help ensure the long-term viability and future success of GM,” Gary Cowger, group vice president of manufacturing and labor relations, said in a statement.

GM’s offer included $20,000 in cash and a $25,000 voucher to buy a new vehicle, spokesman Tony Sapienza said.

Workers had a seven-day grace period to change their decision after agreeing to accept, he said. About half of the 7,500 have until Tuesday, March 31, to reconsider, he said. Historically, the number of workers who rescind isn’t high, Sapienza says.

GM presently has about 62,000 U.S. hourly employees. Of those, 22,000 were eligible for retirement, including a majority of the 7,500, Sapienza said.

In 2006, about 34,000 hourly workers left GM through an attrition program. In 2008, an additional 19,000 did the same. The announcement Thursday, March 26, brings GM’s total U.S. hourly workforce reduction to just more than 60,500 workers.

Sapienza said it’s unlikely that GM will make additional offers in the near future.

GM will fill job openings with current employees whenever possible. In plants where new employees are needed, GM will hire workers at the entry-level wage and benefit structure.

Filed by Jamie LaReau of Automotive News, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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