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Published: Thursday, 6/19/2008

GM says 18,657 took buyouts, early retirements


DETROIT General Motors Corp. said Thursday that 18,657 of its hourly workers about 25 percent of its U.S. hourly work force will leave the company by July 1 through buyout and early retirement offers.

The Detroit-based automaker previously said about 19,000 would accept the offers.

The number includes 1,259 workers who retired before the offers were made, but were told they could take the packages.

GM expects to replace some of the workers at a new entry level wage of about $14 per hour. That s about half the rate of current production workers.

The departures will help GM as it closes four pickup truck and sport utility vehicle plants. The closures will eliminate 8,350 jobs.

The company announced earlier this month it would close the plants due to sagging sales of truck-based vehicles.

GM now has to figure out how many workers from the closed plants and other areas of the company will take positions vacated by those who took the offers.

We re sorting through a significant amount of change, GM spokesman Tony Sapienza said.

He would not give figures on exactly how many workers will be replaced, but he said GM already is hiring at the lower-tier wage.

GM also must hire workers who want to come back to the company from Delphi Corp., its former parts-making operation, and from banks of laid-off workers who still are receiving pay.

The acceptance rate was highest at factories scheduled for closure and those that make pickup trucks.

The highest number was at a Pontiac pickup assembly plant, where 1,055 workers accepted the offers.

At Flint Assembly, which also makes pickups, 880 accepted.

GM also reported high acceptance rates at two SUV plants scheduled for closure.

The company said 778 workers at its Moraine, Ohio, assembly plant and 574 at its Janesville, Wis., assembly plant accepted the offers.

At Willow Run, a transmission plant in Ypsilanti Township, 826 workers accepted the offers.

GM currently has about 74,000 U.S. hourly workers.

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