DETROIT -- Salaried workers at the Detroit 3 are in line for hefty bonuses as automakers spread the wealth from a big rebound in profits.
Last week General Motors Co. said most of its 26,000 white-collar workers are eligible for performance bonuses of 4 to 16 percent of their base salaries. Bonuses could hit 50 percent of salary for a few hundred of those people, GM said.
Total compensation of GM's 100 highest-paid executives is restricted by the U.S. Treasury, which owns 33 percent of GM's common shares.
Also last week, Bloomberg News reported Chrysler Group would pay average bonuses of $10,000 to its 10,755 salaried workers. Chrysler spokesman Gualberto Ranieri declined to comment on the report, which cited unnamed sources.
Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne last month said salaried workers in the United States and Canada would get bonuses. Ranieri said the details are confidential.
Ford Motor Co. plans to pay bonuses to salaried workers in March but hasn't disclosed details, Bloomberg reported.
"Clearly the intent of the Detroit 3 is to hold the line on wage increases," said Sean McAlinden, chief economist at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. He added that the domestic automakers could be looking to retain talent as the industry heats up.
But the bonuses for white-collar workers could agitate the UAW, which will negotiate new labor contracts with the Detroit 3 this year. In many cases, payouts to UAW members will be less on a percentage basis than what some salaried workers stand to receive.
GM will pay its hourly workers profit-sharing checks of more than $3,200, which is about 5 percent of base pay, media reports said. Ford said it is paying UAW-represented workers $5,000. Chrysler is paying $750 to its 22,000 U.S. and 7,600 Canadian hourly employees.
GM said less than 1 percent of salaried workers are eligible for bonuses of 50 percent of base pay. More than 96 percent of its salaried workers could receive bonuses of 4 to 16 percent of their base pay. Bonus sizes are tied to individuals' responsibility levels, GM said.
All three automakers enjoyed big financial rebounds last year.
In coming weeks, GM is expected to report its first yearly profit since 2004. It made $4.2 billion during the first three months of 2010. Last month, Ford posted a $6.6 billion profit for 2010, its most profitable year since 2000. Chrysler had a net loss of $652 million last year but an operating profit of $763 million.