Chrysler and GM are working hard to get their business plans in shape by February 17: that's when they have to return to D.C. and speak to all those terribly nice senators and representatives about the things they've done to earn their bailout dollars.
A key element in those restructuring plans involves bringing the companies' labor forces in line with cash flow--in other words, cutting both workers and wages. So yesterday, both Chrysler and GM announced that they're offering buyout plans to hourly employees. (The timing isn't coincidental: today the companies are set to announce January sales stats, which aren't likely to be pretty; showing some degree of fiscal responsibility will help ease shareholder concerns about the vertically challenged bar graphs on display.)
Chrysler's buyout package for eligible workers includes $50,000 in cash and a $25,000 voucher for a car. That's a little different from the $70,000 cash package the company offered last year, but still better than what's on GM's table: $20,000 in cash and a $25,000 car voucher. Ford didn't announce a buyout package because it didn't ask for a bailout loan, just a line of credit that it's still waiting to receive.
No word yet on how many Chrysler and GM workers are picking up the buyout offers, since company spokespeople declined to comment. All we can say for sure is that it's not a pleasant experience for the companies or for their employees--although the thought of Ron Gettelfinger burying silver in his backyard ought to give execs something to joke about on that long, hybrid car drive to Washington.