GM is making better, more attractive vehicles, yet after losing nearly $40 billion in 2007 (most of which was an accounting adjustment, mind you), the Detroit automaker still has a lot of work to do to become profitable again here in the States. Even though GM shed 34,000 jobs in 2006, the company still has 46,000 retirement-eligible workers on the books. Those workers still make $28 or more an hour, and have some of the best benefits money can buy.

To get high-paying workers out and less expensive replacements in, here's what GM is offering in its newest round of buyouts. Retirement-eligible general labor folks are being offered $45,000 lump sum payouts and $62,500 are up for grabs for skilled tradesmen. Those who choose the buyout option can take a single lump sum payment, or elect to put all the money in a tax-free 401k. Non retirement-ready workers, meanwhile, can receive between $70k and $140k to walk away form the line. UAW chief Ron Gettelfinger estimates that 20,000 out of 74,000 remaining workers will take a package, and the General would likely love it if union Ron were right. Since the cash-saving VEBA contained in the latest union contract won't take effect until 2010, cutting labor costs is GM's best bet for making money in the U.S., aside from developing more attractive vehicles.

[Source: Detroit News]