May 30, 2006

Over 20,000 GM buyout offers accepted: officials

By Jui Chakravorty

YPSILANTI, Michigan (Reuters) - Over 20,000 General Motors
Corp. unionized factory workers have accepted early retirement
and buyout offers, a tally expected to rise toward 30,000 by a
June deadline, a GM executive and a union official said on

The number of GM employees represented by the United Auto
Workers who accept buyouts has been closely watched as an
indicator of the success of the automaker's turnaround and
cost-cutting efforts.

GM has offered a sweeping package of buyouts ranging from
$70,000 to $140,000 to more than 125,000 unionized factory
workers in a bid to reduce costly benefits for an aging work

GM has announced plans to shut 12 plants and cut some
30,000 jobs in order to align operations with a loss in market
share and as it attempts to turn around its money-losing North
American division.

"The feedback is very positive," said John Buttermore, GM
vice president for powertrain manufacturing, who was at the
company's Ypsilanti, Michigan, transmission plant to announce a
new investment program.

Buttermore said more than 20,000 workers have accepted
early retirement and buyout offers.

Jim Mull, a UAW shop chairman at the Ypsilanti plant, said
he had been told by union leadership that the tally was more
than 22,000 as of last week and GM expected to get 30,000
acceptances by a late June deadline for the program.

The buyout program was announced in March and included
buyout offers for workers at former GM subsidiary Delphi Corp.
after negotiations involving all three parties.

Signs of the success of the buyout program prompted rating
upgrades by Merrill Lynch and Prudential Securities and touched
off a nearly 14 percent rise in GM's shares last week.

Mull said 640 workers at the Ypsilanti plant had taken
buyouts already, and said he expected that figure to rise to
between 750 to 800 by the deadline.

That would represent over a quarter of the blue-collar
workforce at the plant, the target of a $170 million investment
program by GM detailed on Tuesday.