Back in late February we reported on Chrysler's early retirement and separation program that the automaker hoped would help it shed 13,000 jobs over the next three years. The company was planning on saying goodbye to about 5,700 hourly (read: union) workers this year, of which around 1,000 would be from Canada. That means Chrysler hoped at least 4,700 of its hourly workers in the U.S. would take the buyout offer that offered a lump sum of up to $100,000 to workers willing to leave.

The Detroit Free Press is reporting that in fact around 6,400 hourly workers in the U.S. have said they're interested in taking the buyout, nearly 40% more than Chrysler planned. While the purchase of Chrysler by Cerberus Capital Management was seen as a good thing for the automaker going forward, the larger than expected response to its buyout offer suggests that many of Chrysler's hourly workers believe the writing's still on the wall. Analysts speculate that rather than stick around and drag down the company, these workers feel their retirement benefits will be more secure if they leave now to help the company and ensure its future.

Not expecting such high demand, Chrysler has also reportedly slowed down the buyout process to a halt. Only now have a number of workers departed who expressed interest in leaving the company when the program was announced in late February. It's like that some of those hoping to leave this year will be denied the buyout offer, which is something Ford was forced to do when too many salaried workers accepted its buyout offer.

[Source: The Detroit Free Press]