GM Gets 19,000 Workers to Accept Buyouts

Costs undetermined as automaker will reduce domestic by 24%

General Motors Corp. reports that 24% of its unionized workers in the U.S. have accepted voluntary buyouts and will be separated from the automaker by July 1. The company said the figure represents about 24% of its domestic production workers, or about 7% of its global workforce.

In the four-year labor agreement reached last year with the United Autoworkers union, GM offered buyout packages to all 74,000 U.S. workers, in an effort to reduce overall employment numbers and financial obligations. A company spokesman said it was not yet clear how much money will be saved by the buyouts.

GM employees were offered buyouts ranging from $45,000 to $62,500, or early retirement packages ranging from $70,000 to $140,000.

The contract was approved decisively in a vote by GM workers last fall, but individual plants continue to negotiate specific agreements covering work rules, job assignments, and other local details. The current downsizing effort follows a prior cut back in 2006, which resulted in about 34,410 workers voluntarily separating from the company.

GM projects that, going forward, its total number of domestic production workers will be about 55,000, though there are reports that the company is still seeking further reductions in its workforce. At the same time, the new contract provides for the automaker to replace some separated workers with new employees at lower wages.

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