General Motors Offers Buyouts to Skilled Workers at 14 Plants

In a bid to reduce its number of highly trained workers, General Motors (GM) is reportedly offering skilled-trades workers a $60,000 buyout to leave the automaker's payroll by March. The Detroit-based company has "a couple thousand" more trade workers than it needs to run its U.S. factories, GM spokesman Chris Lee told the Reuters news agency.

Workers in skilled trades, such as electricians, represented by the United Auto Workers make higher wages than workers on the assembly line because of their special training, Reuters noted.

The buyout, which include early retirements, were offered to workers represented by the UAW at 14 plants, including the Orion Assembly plant in Michigan. That plant in October was named as home to the new Buick Verano compact sedan, which is expected to go into production next summer. Orion will also build a replacement for the Chevrolet Aveo subcompact to be renamed the Sonic.

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Both models are being built at the Orion plant because of a cost-cutting agreement reached with the UAW that allows GM to pay new or rehired workers less than than their counterparts with more seniority.

Monday's announcement comes just weeks after GM, along with crosstown rival Chrysler Group, said it would hire an additional 1,000 engineers and researchers during the next two years to work on electric vehicles.

GM and the UAW will begin negotiations next year aimed at securing a new agreement on wages and benefits to replace an expiring four-year deal.
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