General Motors Corp would be able to buy out as many as 24,000 UAW workers and replace them with lower-paid hires under a tentative contract agreement, the Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site on Friday.

Such a potential buyout stems from a move by the union to expand the definition of non-production job classifications, the article said, citing management and union officials briefed on the pact.

GM will be able to hire at a much lower pay package janitors, landscape workers and material handlers, the report said.

It will also be allowed to define some entry-level production work and skilled-trade positions as a non-core position, whereby they get paid about half or less of the $70-to-$75 an hour wage-and-benefit package traditionally given UAW members, the report said.

Those workers would have the opportunity later to transfer to the higher-paying production jobs, the report said.

GM has about 15,000 to 20,000 members eligible for retirement, and it may be able to offer buyout packages to take advantage of the second-tier agreement, the report said.

The UAW has asked its local unit leaders to gather in Detroit on Friday to review the details of the tentative contract, which is likely to be put to vote as early as this weekend.

GM was not immediately available for comment. A UAW spokesman declined to comment.