GM offering early retirement to skilled workers

Welding, fabrication. machine, tool-and-die and electrical workers sought for lump-sum payments, and qualified medical benefits


The is reporting General Motors Co. said Monday that it would offer $60,000 lump-sum payments to skilled-trades workers to quit the company or take early retirement at 14 plants, including Spring Hill, TN.

<banner position="ArticleFlex_1" itxtvisited="1" id="__gelement_adbanner_0"></banner></banner itxtvisited="1"><//banner>About 300 Spring Hill workers are eligible for the buyouts and early retirements, including 50 who are currently on layoff, said Mike Herron, chairman of United Auto Workers Local 1853, which represents hourly employees at the plant.

Overall, GM said it has a surplus of several thousand skilled-trade workers, people with special training in areas such as welding, metal fabrication, machine repair, tool-and-die making, and electrical work.

Herron said the union had requested that GM offer another round of buyouts to both production and skilled-trade workers to accommodate some laid-off employees who “had expressed a desire for a program like this so they could move on.”

“We got approval for the skilled trades, but not the production people,” Herron said. “We do have some senior members who would like to go ahead and retire with a program like this.”

Those eligible for retirement – people whose age and years of service together total at least 85 – would get the $60,000 payments plus retirement pay and medical benefits.

But workers who haven’t yet qualified for retirement would get only $60,000 each, and would have no further connection with GM.

Herron said he doesn’t recommend that any of the laid-off Spring Hill skilled-trades workers take the buyouts. The union hopes to have all of them back to work by March as the plant begins expanding its current four-cylinder engine manufacturing operation, which will add nearly 500 jobs at the facility by mid-2012.

“The union isn’t encouraging anyone to go ahead and quit under this offer,” he said, “especially those not eligible for retirement.

“They would be out completely. It might be OK for someone who has already gone into another business and wants to leave the company, and has low seniority. But for anyone else, that money is soon gone and they’d have no job.”

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