About 30 workers in area agree to leave GM

March 27, 2009|By Andrea K. Walker | Andrea K. Walker,andrea.walker@baltsun.com

General Motors said Thursday that more than 7,500 workers, including about 30 in the Baltimore area, have signed up to take buyouts or early retirement as the financially troubled automaker restructures to avoid bankruptcy.

The Powertrain Baltimore Transmission Plant in White Marsh will lose about 26 hourly workers. About 238 hourly employees and 40 salaried workers currently work at the plant.

And four employees who worked at an assembly plant in Southeast Baltimore that closed in 2005 will take buyouts or retirements. Those workers were on layoff status.

The buyouts were part of a plan to cut costs as GM tries to prove to the government that it deserves more federal aid.

The company has borrowed $13.4 billion from the federal government since December and is asking for $16.6 billion more. It has until Tuesday to give President Barack Obama's auto industry task force evidence that it is restructuring the company and cutting labor costs, among other things.

About 90 percent of the employees who are leaving have opted for early retirement, under which they will receive about $37,000 per year plus benefits, GM officials said in a conference call.

The reductions leave GM with about 60,500 hourly workers.

The latest round of buyouts and early retirements at GM was the third for the company since 2006. Under all three offers, more than 60,000 workers have decided to leave the company.

Because of the buyouts and retirements, GM will be able to rehire some workers who are on layoff, but officials do not yet know how many or at which plants. John Raut, a spokesman for the White Marsh plant, said rehiring will depend on demand from the assembly plants it supplies in Pontiac and Flint, Mich., and Arlington, Texas. There are about 80 laid-off workers from the White Marsh facility.

The White Marsh plant builds the A1000 six-speed automatic Allison transmission and the Hybrid 2MODE transmission.

Chrysler LLC, which like GM is trying to get federal aid, said Thursday that it is extending its deadline for employees to accept retirement or buyout packages. The company first offered the program in February. Chrysler declined to say how many people have signed up for the program so far.

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