First crack at their jobs will go to current employees "whenever possible", according to a release from GM. But if new workers have to be brought in, they'll come in at entry-level wages and benefits.
According to GM North America president Troy Clarke, "This attrition program gives us an opportunity to restructure our U.S. workforce through the entry-level wage and benefit structure for new hourly employees."
Translation: We're going to save a bundle by getting the old guy out of the slot, and putting in a new guy at a lower wage.
Now yes, I do understand that the domestic auto companies are still bloated from a quarter-century ago, and that trimming down doesn't happen without some tough decisions.
But before you jump on the bandwagon and say "about time", keep a few things in mind, including the fact that good-paying jobs generate higher taxes and more disposable income than low-paying jobs. Those taxes help pay for your social programs, your schools, your neighborhood, your police and fire protection, your parks and your libraries. Do you want your neighborhood funded by an autoworker making $25+ an hour, or by someone whose job description includes "Do you want fries with that?"
Henry Ford, back when he was still turning out the Model T, raised the salaries of most of his workers to $5.00 a day, which was twice the going rate. His theory was that a decently-paid worker could afford to buy the product he built, thereby increasing demand for the product and turning it into a cycle. How many minimum-wage workers do you know who are buying new cars?
And don't kid yourself; if the auto plants could get workers to screw together the vehicles for a buck an hour, I doubt the price would go down. Profits would go up and the shareholders would be happy, but don't think Flint would be fired back up to make $2,500 Tata cars. One of Chevrolet's best-selling models is made in Korea, but its price doesn't seem to reflect the wages those workers make over there.
Now, don't get me wrong -- the automakers need to do something to stay afloat in these troubled times, and they're probably doing the best they can.
Just don't make the mistake of thinking that what's good for General Motors is necessarily good for America.