Despite the rebounding economy, General Motors is still watching employee costs closely.
The automaker is offering skilled trades workers at 13 plants $60,000 to retire or leave the company, UAW and GM officials said last week. And GM revealed that it has no plans to give salaried employees raises in 2011.
But, to comply with the UAW master contract, GM did say it was paying retired hourly workers lump sum cost-of-living payments of up to $700 each.
GM has "a few thousand" more skilled trades workers than are needed, GM spokeswoman Kim Carpenter said. GM has about 53,000 skilled trades and production workers at its 33 U.S. plants.
This is the first hourly buyout program since GM's 2009 bankruptcy.
The program will pay participants eligible to retire $60,000 to leave with full retirement benefits. There's also an option for some younger skilled trades workers to receive $60,000 while giving up retiree health care, post-employment life insurance and other benefits.
GM said the contractual payout to its 267,000 hourly retirees and 72,000 surviving spouses would exceed $200 million. Ford Motor Co. expects to pay out more than $70 million this week for the same purpose.
Chrysler Group paid $35 million this month to UAW-represented retirees and surviving spouses and another $6 million to hourly retirees represented by other unions, said Chrysler spokeswoman Shawn Morgan.