General Motors is offering buyouts to thousands of employees as it seeks to streamline its North American operations.

We can do this the easy way or we can do this the hard way — so what’s going to be?

That was the question essentially posed to thousands of General Motors Co. white collar employees by the company’s management, looking for at least 7,000 to accept an early retirement buyout. The automaker is looking to trim salaried workers as a proactive cost cutting measure.

Those selected to participate in the plan have until noon Monday to decide; however, early reports suggest the company is going to get a little over half of its target, which means that GM likely will be laying off people in the near future to get that number.

(GM offering buyouts to salaried employees to cut workforce. Click Here for the story.)

The company hoped at least 7,000 white-collar workers would sign up by noon Monday for a buyout offer, but managers told employees last week that it was likely to fall short, raising the prospect of significant layoffs.

GM CEO Mary Barra outlined the company's voluntary buyout offer in an email to employees Oct. 31.

The number volunteering for the offer is likely be closer to 4,000 based on estimates by an actuary, some GM employees told the Detroit Free Press.

Based upon those numbers, that means 3,000 or more salaried workers in North America could be terminated starting in January if the company follows through on the plan, which was revealed last month.

(Click Here to see why GM is closing an Ohio warehouse.)

To try to encourage eligible employees to take the deal and get better sense of the numbers, GM managers have been holding informational, low-pressure meetings to encourage more folks to sign on to the plan, according to the Free Press.

GM is looking to cut costs to offset the escalating prices of materials and flat car sales. In late October, GM CEO Mary Barra sent an email to all 50,000 salaried GM employees in North America offering buyouts to 17,700 salaried employees who have 12 years or more with GM.

The buyout packages include six months pay and six months of health care coverage, GM confirmed. Employees electing to take the buyout will remain with GM through the end of this year, with the severance package beginning on Jan. 1.

(GM handily beats earnings forecasts, buoyed by truck sales. Click Here for the story.)

There are some who believe that employees are holding out for a better deal as the six-month pay and six-month health care offer is what is given to a GM employee with 12 years or more experience who is involuntarily terminated, the Free Press reported.

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