Most workers taking Delphi attrition offers

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, August 9, 2006

More than 350 of the approximately 450 employees at DelphiPackard Electrical Systems have accepted a severance package ratherthan struggle through the unknowns surrounding the autopartsmaker’s bankruptcy, a union official said today.

Zeb Wells, president of the local chapter of the IUE-CWA, saidhe was “a little” surprised at the numbers, but understood theconcerns of the employees. Workers faced a deadline today onwhether to accept the attrition package.

“A lot of people are concerned about not knowing what the wageswill be,” he said.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Union workers at the Brookhaven plant, as well as in Clinton andother Delphi plants across the nation, face a future of uncertaintyif they decide to stay.

The 359 employees accepting the Delphi’s attrition package haveuntil Aug. 16 to change their minds, but Wells said nothing islikely to change in the next week.

Negotiations regarding salaries, benefits and other areas ofemployment failed to materialize during talks between company andunion representatives once the attrition package was approved,Wells said.

As a result, he said, a vast majority of the employees whoqualify for retirement or buyout packages are opting to go with aknown quantity. Wells is also accepting a retirement severancepackage.

Delphi has offered a number of retirement or buyout optionsdepending on the employee’s age and number of years with thecompany. Those accepting the buyout option will receive cash, butno other benefits.

Retirement options vary.

For those with 30 or more years of service, they may take fullretirement, a $35,000 bonus and an option to retire as a GeneralMotors employee. At the other end of the option scale, those atleast 50 years of age with at least 10 years of service may takefull retirement and the option to retire as a GM employee.

Buyout options range from $40,000 to those with less than threeyears with the company to $140,000 to those with more than 10years.

“We don’t have any (in Brookhaven) with less than three years,”Wells said. “So everyone taking the buyout will receive between$70,000 and $140,000.”

Wells did not have a breakdown between the number of retireesand buyouts immediately available, but did say the company waslosing a lot of experienced employees that would have to bereplaced.

Employees accepting the package will be phased out between nowuntil Jan. 1, Wells said.

“Right now, there are more issues they have to work out sothere’s no movement out (of the plant),” he said.

Part of the delay in negotiating salaries and benefits for thosechoosing to stay resulted from the company waiting to see how manyemployees would accept the package and in what job fields. They nowhave a better idea of who will need to be replaced, Wells said.

The company will have to act soon to keep the Brookhaven plantoperating, he said. Eighty-nine employees have opted to stay and itrequires 331 to run it.

However, the phase-out should allow Delphi to replace thoseleaving with inexperienced employees at a lower pay rate, Wellssaid.

“I imagine the training curve will start off a little slow, butit should be fine by January,” he said.

Delphi Corporate Affairs Manager Lindsey Williams told TheClarion-Ledger that “there will be a transition period. But wewill staff our operations according to needs and we are committedto continuing to provide quality products.”

Management at each plant will decide when to release eachattrition employee, Williams said.

The situation at the Clinton plant is similar to Brookhaven’s.About 500 of the nearly 800 eligible employees at the Clinton planthave chosen to leave, according to the Jackson newspaper.

The Brookhaven and Clinton plants both manufacture plasticmoulding, electrical systems and electrical components for GMvehicles.