Chrysler LLC will offer new buyouts to factory workers at seven of its eight U.S. plants slated for closure under its bankruptcy plans, the United Auto Workers union said on Tuesday.
The U.S. Treasury has told Chrysler the buyouts must be completed by May 26 for the automaker to stay on schedule for coming out of bankruptcy, UAW Vice President General Holiefield said in a memo to local union presidents.
In the next few days, each member at these facilities will be sent a letter from the corporation listing the special program options, Holiefield said in the memo sent on May 11, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.
The automaker, which filed for bankruptcy on April 30 after failing to restructure its debt, has detailed plans to close eight plants as part of a sweeping restructuring needed to emerge from bankruptcy by the end of June.
With the exception of Chrysler's axle plant in Detroit all the workers at the other plants scheduled for shutdown -- which include Sterling Heights and Conner assembly plants in Michigan -- will be offered special programs, Holiefield said.
The automaker has been offering buyouts and early retirement incentives to all of its 26,000 U.S. hourly workers under a program launched in February. The program offers retirement-eligible workers $50,000 in cash and a voucher of $25,000 for a new Chrysler vehicle if they leave.
Chrysler spokesman Max Gates declined to comment whether the company was planning new incentives to the hourly workers at the affected plants. UAW representatives were not immediately available for comment.
Chrysler's U.S. government-supported restructuring centers on selling substantially all of its assets to a new company, which would be 55 percent owned by a union-aligned healthcare trust, or Voluntary Beneficiary Employees Association.
Chrysler has idled all of its U.S. plants for the duration of the bankruptcy reorganization. The automaker aimed to complete the reorganization within 60 days of the filing.
Holiefield said the UAW is in discussions with Chrysler to resolve the many issues we are confronted with to assure the bankruptcy process is completed in order to get our plants back up and running as a viable company.
(Additional reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Andre Grenon)