Michigan to lose more white-collar automotive jobs with Stellantis buyouts
- Stellantis is offering voluntary buyouts to about half of its non-unionized salaried workforce
- The offers will go to workers with at least five years of experience who must agree to leave by the end of the year
- The automaker is cutting costs after the UAW contract wage hikes and amid high EV transition costs
Stellantis this week offered buyouts to thousands of white collar workers, the latest cost-trimming to hit Detroit’s legacy automakers amid an increasingly competitive shift to electric vehicle production.
The company sent its second round of voluntary separation options this year to 6,400 salaried workers — about half of its 12,700 non-unionized white collar U.S. workforce.
Employees — in positions such as engineering and finance — with at least five years of corporate service will have a few weeks to decide whether they’re willing to leave their jobs by the end of the year.
- Automaker Stellantis offers buyouts to 60 percent of its U.S. workforce
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Most of the workers are employed at the Dutch company’s complex in Oakland County’s Auburn Hills, where about 11,000 people work in the North American corporate headquarters and an adjacent technology center.
“As the U.S. automotive industry continues to face challenging market conditions, Stellantis is taking the necessary structural actions to protect our operations and the company,” according to a Stellantis statement.
Stellantis NA [NYSE:STLA] — owner of the former Fiat-Chrysler, including brands like Dodge and Ram — is among the top five largest employers in Michigan.
A large-scale departure of the workers from the company represents a loss to the state, said Patrick Anderson, CEO of Anderson Economic Group of East Lansing.
The buyouts mean “permanent job losses on very high-skilled, very high-value added occupations right here in Michigan,” Anderson told Bridge Michigan on Tuesday.
“We need to retain as many of these skill and technology design and administrative jobs as possible if we want to remain the center of the automotive industry in North America.”
Stellantis, valued at about $62 billion, last offered buyouts in April, when it offered voluntary separations to about 60 percent of its American workforce. Among them were 2,500 salaried workers.
The company’s salaried worker reductions follow similar moves by Ford Motor Company, which laid off 2,000 salaried workers in 2022. In February, General Motors offered voluntary buyouts to most of its 35,000 salaried workers in Michigan. About 5,000 people took the offer.
The buyout offers come on the heels of a prolonged strike by the United Auto Workers union, which won raises, job protections and other gains for hourly employees in Big Three U.S. factories.
At the end of the 46-day strike, Stellantis agreed to invest $18.9 billion in U.S. production by the end of 2028.
However, a Reuters report said the company would look at potential cost cuts to offset losses from the strike and the subsequent labor agreement, which is still not ratified.
In announcing the U.S. buyouts, Stellantis said it remains focused on its Dare Forward 2030 strategy, including a launch of eight new EVs.
Slower-than-expected EV sales and higher ongoing EV production costs have prompted other automakers to slow electrification plans, even as global competition heats up from Chinese automakers.
The slowdown is evident in Michigan where Ford paused development of an EV battery plant in Marshall (along with another one in Kentucky). GM also has slowed its Lake Orion Assembly conversion plans, though its Delta Township Ultium battery factory remains on track, the company has said.
Meanwhile, cost-cutting at Stellantis goes beyond buyout offers this year. CEO Carlos Tavares has shaved expenses at global factories and in June warned suppliers that the company would be looking for better pricing.
Buyouts also took place in Italy this year, with the company announcing that it would trim 2,000 salaried workers there.
In Oakland County, a recent economic forecast by University of Michigan economists projected the county would see small job growth in professional and technical workers this year through 2025. The average wage in that category was $100,879 per year in 2021.
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