GM hourly workers expect biggest bonuses ever

February 8, 2011

GM hourly workers expect biggest bonuses ever

The Detroit News

General Motors Co.’s hourly workers can expect some of the largest profit-sharing checks ever, when the automaker pays bonuses for the money earned in 2010, a top union official said Monday.

United Auto Workers’ Vice President Joe Ashton, who oversees the union’s labor relations with GM, said the bonuses are likely to top the average $1,775 workers got for 1999, the company’s biggest payout to date.

“I would think so,” he said.

The union’s leadership should get an exact amount around Feb.14, Ashton said, when the automaker is required by the UAW contract to report a figure to its top officials. GM officials will announce the final figure to rank-and-file workers at a later date.

“We don’t have an exact number yet,” said Ashton, speaking at an event held for U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis at GM’s Detroit Hamtramck plant. But when it’s announced, it “will be one of the bigger ones, I’m sure.”

GM could top off the bonuses with incentive pay not required by the contract, but Ashton declined to say if that’s been decided. “We’ve had conversations with GM, and I’m sure GM is looking at any opportunity to reward their workers,” he said.

The size of the bonuses, Ashton noted, could “set the tone” for the contract talks that begin this summer. The contract expires in September.

“If people going into the negotiations got substantial bonuses, they would feel good going into them,” he said.

Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC announced their profit sharing payouts last month, along with year-end earnings. Ford’s payouts averaged $5,000 per worker and included extra pay to reward for vehicle quality and company performance.

Chrysler Group LLC didn’t report a profit and wasn’t contractually required to pay bonuses. But blue-collar workers received an average of $750 each as a performance award. The payouts varied based on hours worked and wage rates.

Through September, GM had made $4.2 billion in profits.

“It looks like there’ll be a profit-sharing payout,” said GM spokeswoman Sherrie Childers-Arb.

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