General Motors is offering buyouts to approximately 2,000 skilled tradesmen from 14 plants that have closed during the company’s restructuring.
The automaker will pay eligible workers $60,000 to retire with full benefits. Younger workers will have the option to take the $60,000 in exchange for giving up retiree health care and other benefits.
However, many of the skilled tradesman have taken work in auto plants after enduring the ups and downs in the boom and bust of the construction industry. They have already passed up several earlier buyouts and the number of employees interested in accepting the package is uncertain. But GM is apparently counting on the pressure of impending contract changes that could reduce eligibility for supplemental unemployment benefits.
The UAW agreed to eliminate the so-called Jobs Bank last year when the company went through bankruptcy. That program essentially provided a check for those idled by a plant closure or other cutbacks until appropriate new work could be found.
If more workers do accept the offer, however, the buyout could add to GM’s unfunded pension liabilities, which GM CEO Dan Akerson recently pegged at $10 billion dollars.