Monday, April 10, 2006

Decision of a lifetime

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Decision of a lifetime (storylink)

Autoworkers try to find a steady course in uncertain times

Louis Aguilar and Brian J. O'Connor / The Detroit NewsApril 9, 2006

For more than 100,000 U.S. factory workers, the historic buyout deal brokered by General Motors Corp., Delphi Corp. and the United Auto Workers comes down to a simple choice: Keep working and risk losing their jobs down the road, or take the money and run.
Simple, but not easy.

They are the last generation of autoworkers who expected to punch in at one company their entire working lives and be rewarded with hefty wages -- many can earn more than $100,000 a year with overtime -- and comfortable pensions.

For them, the buyout offer essentially represents a broken promise -- the promise of a job for life. They greet that fact in varied ways. With stubborn refusal. With dreams of a new career after decades of factory life. With hopes of transferring to a job given up by another.

The buyout program is one of the largest in corporate history. All of GM's U.S. factory workers -- 113,000 -- can take cash incentives ranging from $35,000 to retire early, to $140,000 for workers with less seniority to simply leave the company.

At Delphi, GM's former parts unit, 17,000 U.S. hourly workers can take $35,000 to retire. Of those not eligible, some hope talks related to Delphi's bankruptcy involving Delphi, GM and the supplier's unions will end with a cash offer to leave.

Others want to be among the 5,000 UAW workers GM has said can transfer to the automaker. Still others are scrambling for jobs at factories that will stay open as Delphi restructures, even if it means a deep pay cut.

They all face deeply personal choices.

"When you get a buyout, you're now in the driver's seat, you're now responsible for your career," says career coach Prudence Cole of Grosse Pointe, who runs
"You can choose to stay or you can choose to leave, but it's all about you. That can be fearful, but it's an opportunity to decide what's important for you."

At GM and Delphi, some workers will insist on staying. Some won't be able to cash out fast enough. The rest will go with their guts and hope for the best. But they are all weighing the money against the risks, and their hopes against their fears.

You can reach Louis Aguilar at (313) 222-2760 or You can reach Brian O'Connor at (313) 222-2145 or


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