Tuesday, February 10, 2009
GM News:GM cuts 10,000 salaried jobs, trims employees' pay
NEW YORK – General Motors Corp. is planning to slash another 10,000 salaried jobs this year, saying the cuts are unavoidable with a government restructuring deadline looming and industrywide sales in one of the worst downturns in history.
The Detroit-based automaker said Tuesday it will reduce its total number of white-collar workers by 14 percent to 63,000. About 3,400, or 12 percent, of GM's 29,500 salaried U.S. jobs will be eliminated.
Most of the company's remaining salaried employees will have their pay cut.
In its plan to Congress submitted late last year, GM said it would have to reduce both salaried and hourly positions so that the company could become viable for the long term. The company said it plans to reduce its total U.S. work force from 96,537 people in 2008 to between 65,000 and 75,000 in 2012, but it did not specify how many of the surviving jobs would be salaried or hourly.
GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner, who was meeting with congressional leaders in Washington about global warming legislation, said Tuesday's announcement was "indicative of the kind of things we need to do to get this viability plan in shape and respond to these tough market conditions."
GM has dramatically downsized both its salaried and hourly work forces in recent years as the U.S. auto market has shrunk from an annual sales rate of around 16 million vehicles to 13.2 million last year.
Since 2000, GM's salaried work force has shrunk by 33 percent from its 2000 high of 44,000 people. At the same time, the number of hourly workers has plunged by more than half — to about 63,700 people at the end of last year from 133,000 in 2000.
Most of the cuts announced Tuesday are expected to take place by May 1. GM said the cuts will vary by global regions depending on staffing levels and market conditions.
The company's statement said there would be no buyout or early retirement packages as GM had offered in the past, but laid-off employees will get severance pay, benefit contributions and other assistance.
GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson would not say exactly where the U.S. cuts would come, but he said the automaker will continue to staff areas such as electric vehicle development that it expects to be important going forward.
"The goal is to put our people in the areas that are critical to our future success," Wilkinson said.
GM also said it will cut the pay of most of its salaried U.S. workers effective May 1. The pay cuts will be reevaluated at the end of the year, GM said.
The pay of U.S. executive employees will be cut by 10 percent, while other salaried workers will see cuts of 3 percent to 7 percent, GM said.
GM faces a Feb. 17 deadline to present a plan to the government showing the wounded automaker can become viable.
GM has received $9.4 billion from the Treasury Department and expects to get $4 billion more, but the government can demand repayment March 31 if it determines the company can't become viable.
The company is required to show the government it can achieve "positive net present value," which means that the present value of a company's expected net cash flows exceeds the initial investment in the company.
The loan terms also require bondholders to swap part of the company's debt for equity. The UAW also must make concessions that will reduce labor costs to the level of Japanese automakers' plants in the U.S.
Wagoner said Tuesday that talks with bondholders and the United Auto Workers union were ongoing and "there's good dialogue."
GM's plan also will include shuttering additional factories, according to people familiar with the plans.
GM has yet to announce its fourth-quarter and full-year 2008 financial results, but analysts expect the automaker's losses to total in the billions of dollars for both periods.
GM reported a $2.5 billion loss in the third quarter alone and said it burned through $6.9 billion in cash during that period, adding to urgent warnings that it would run out of cash without government aid.
Associated Press Writer Ken Thomas in Washington and AP Auto Writer Tom Krisher in Detroit contributed to this report.