A GM file photo shows a worker in its Toledo Propulsion Systems plant in Ohio.

The recently released details of General Motors' special attrition retirement program ignited a wave of discontent March 14 among United Auto Workers (UAW) across the nation.

The program, a product of negotiations during last fall's UAW strike against the Detroit Three automakers, offers a $50,000 pretax lump sum to eligible retirees.

At GM's Toledo Propulsion Systems plant in Ohio, members of UAW Local 14 gathered to find out who would be able to participate in the program, only to find the eligibility cap limited to 2% per plant in the first phase. That works out to about 900 of the 7,800 GM hourly employees currently eligible for retirement.

Tom Ruddy, a 38-year veteran at GM's Toledo plant who put off retirement in hopes of taking advantage of the program, told the Detroit Free Press he felt "total disappointment" upon discovering his probable ineligibility due to the stringent constraints.

"I am No. 294 on the seniority list," Ruddy told the Free Press. "They came out with this (program) and only 2% of us can go. That is only 26 people at our plant. So all of us are just shocked. They rolled it out across all the GM plants and said, 'Only 2% per plant. That is what you get, no more.'"

A letter from UAW Local 14 leadership to its members pointed out GM's Detroit rivals, Ford and Stellantis, both implemented uncapped buyout programs in their 2023 agreements. The letter urged members to contact UAW President Shawn Fain and UAW Vice President for the GM Department Mike Booth to voice dissatisfaction over their agreement to the 2% cap in the first phase.

Booth on March 15 emailed a statement to the Free Press, attempting to provide reassurance that all eligible members will eventually get the opportunity to retire with the $50,000 bonus throughout the contract's life, albeit in phased offerings. This phased approach, according to GM, is necessary to maintain operational continuity while honoring their commitments to the workforce. However, the timing of the subsequent phases has not been released.

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