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GM Says 19,000 U.S. Factory Workers Take Buyouts

General Motors said about 19,000 U.S. factory workers—just more than a quarter of its American blue-collar work force—had taken buyouts to leave the automaker.

GM's announcement of the latest job reductions comes as the company is under increasing pressure to cut costs in the face of weak U.S. sales and high gas prices.

General Motors
AP
General Motors

All of GM's roughly 74,000 U.S. factory workers had been eligible for early retirement packages and buyouts intended to clear the way for hires of lower-wage workers under a deal negotiated last year with the United Auto Workers union.

GM said most of the UAW-represented workers taking buyouts and early retirement offers, which ranged up to $140,000 in one-time payouts, would leave the company by July 1.

The acceptance rate for the cost-cutting program was lower than a similar offer GM made in 2006 for its union workers and broadly in line with expectations.

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said in February he expected fewer than 20,000 GM workers to accept buyouts.

Gettelfinger said then he expected economic uncertainty and other concerns to limit the number of union workers taking the offers to leave the payroll.

GM, like the other two Detroit-based automakers, reached an agreement with the UAW that allows it to hire new workers for some jobs starting at $14 per hour, or about half the current average hourly wage.

GM said it would fill openings with existing workers where possible, but would also hire new UAW-represented workers at that lower wage rate at plants where more workers are needed.

More than 34,000 GM workers accepted similar buyouts in 2006. About 4,200 UAW workers at Ford took a company-wide buyout and the company is making plant-by-plant offers available in a bid to cut costs further.

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