In Michigan
2:50 am
Thu March 26, 2009

AP Source: 7,500 GM hourly workers decide to leave

Detroit, MI – Detroit, MI
AP

A person familiar with the numbers says about 7,500 General Motors Corp.
hourly workers have signed up to take buyout and early retirement offers.

That's about 12% of the company's U.S. hourly work force of 62,400.

The person says most of the workers took early retirement options and few took buyouts to leave the company.

The person did not want to be identified because the number has not been released publicly.

All of GM's U.S. hourly workers had been offered $20,000 plus a $25,000 voucher to buy a car if they would leave the company.

The deadline to decide was Tuesday, and many have until March 31 to reverse their decision.

GM is trying to reduce its factory work force to match lower sales.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama says the current model for the U.S.
auto industry is unsustainable and the Big Three manufacturers will have to change their ways.

Answering questions at an online town hall, Obama said the auto industry must be preserved, not only symbolically but for the satellite industries such as suppliers.

However, he said his job is to protect U.S. taxpayers and he wouldn't spend federal dollars on "a model that doesn't work."

Obama said sales of new vehicles had been around 14 million, a number that has dropped to 9 million during the economic downturn.

In part, that was due to Americans struggling to get auto loans and fears of big-ticket purchases as jobs disappear.

The president said even as the economy bounces back, Detroit can't focus on building more SUVs and counting on low gas prices.