DETROIT — General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC are offering blue-collar employees another round of buyout and early-retirement offers as the automakers try to cut their work forces and reduce expenses, union officials said.
GM detailed its offers in an e-mail message to local union officials Monday, according to a union official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Chrysler made its offers Friday to all hourly workers represented by the United Auto Workers except those at the company's Kenosha, Wis., engine plant, according to a memo detailing the offers that was obtained by the Associated Press.
Both GM and Chrysler have seen sales decline with the overall U.S. auto market and have been forced to take government loans to survive.
According to the memo from UAW vice president General Holiefield to local presidents and other officials, the union negotiated for another round of offers at Chrysler because of conditions the federal government imposed on the company in exchange for granting the loans.
The conditions require Chrysler and GM to make changes to their UAW contracts, including elimination of the jobs bank, in which workers get most of their pay even when they are laid off. Chrysler, GM and the union said last month that the jobs banks had been eliminated.
The new round of offers may be more appealing to workers who are on indefinite layoff due to the U.S. auto sales slump. The companies can leave the jobs vacant for now, then later fill the jobs as needed with new workers who can be paid about half what current employees make.
Chrysler's roughly 26,800 production workers represented by the UAW make about $29 per hour, while GM's 62,000 UAW-represented workers make about $28. Under a contract reached last year, the company can pay some replacement workers about $14 per hour and give them less-costly health care and retirement benefits.
Workers at both companies have until Feb. 25 to accept the offers.
Chrysler's early retirement package includes $50,000 cash and a $25,000 voucher to buy a car, while the Auburn Hills-based company's buyouts include $75,000 cash and a $25,000 car voucher, according to the union memo. The buyout offer is more lucrative, with $115,000 plus a $25,000 car voucher for workers with 10 or more years of seniority at closed plants in St. Louis and Newark, Del., according to the memo.
News of Chrysler's offers was reported earlier Monday by the trade publication Automotive News.
GM's offers, to nearly all its UAW employees, are less lucrative. The Detroit company is offering $20,000 in cash and a $25,000 car voucher for workers who retire early and those who simply leave the company, according to the union official.
GM spokesman Tony Sapienza and UAW spokeswoman Christine Moroski declined to comment on the offers.