In another bid to stave off bankruptcy, General Motors today announced new plans to slash its American work force. The sputtering automaker said it will cut 21,000 hourly employees by 2010 and an additional 2,000 by 2011.
The layoffs will reduce GM's American hourly work force by more than one-third, to 38,000, and would cut the company's costs by $2.6 billion. The company also plans to accelerate the closure of more than a dozen factories, phase out its Pontiac brand and reduce the number of dealers it works with by more than 2,600.
"We are taking tough but necessary actions that are critical to GM's long-term viability," GM CEO Fritz Henderson said in a written statement. "Our responsibility is clear -- to secure GM's future -- and we intend to succeed."
GM's restructuring plan was developed, Henderson said, with the support of the Obama administration, which last week lent GM $2 billion, adding to the $13.4 billion that the ailing automaker has recevied in federal aid since December.
Chrysler has weathered layoffs of a similar scale over the last two years. The car company, which, like GM, has received billions in federal aid after facing its own financial troubles, has cut 32,000 positions, or 37 percent of its workforce, since January 2007. Earlier this year, the company announced it would cut another 3,000 jobs.
While the automakers have seen steep sales declines in the wake of the recession, they are just two among many to be slashing payrolls.
Last month, nearly 3,000 mass layoffs -- the termination of 50 or more workers by a single company-- took place in the United States, according to the Department of Labor. Since the recession began in December, 2007, there were more than 31,000 layoffs.
Among the more well-known employers to announce layoffs last month were IBM, Google and the New York Times. IBM is reportedly slashing 5,000 jobs, Google has said it will trim nearly 200 positions and the New York Times will cut 100 employees and institute 5 percent pay cuts for most of its staff in exchange for 10 days of leave.
New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and chief executive Janet Robinson noted "the global economic crisis" in a memo to employees on the layoffs and pay cuts.
"This was a very difficult decision to make," they said. "The environment we are in is the toughest we have seen in our years in business."
In a message posted to his blog, Google senior vice president Omid Kordestani partly blamed his company's job cuts on "overlapping organizations" that make Google's teams "less effective and efficient."
"Google has grown very quickly in a very short period of time," he said. "When companies grow that quickly, it's almost impossible to get everything right, and we certainly didn't."
On the next page, we'll take look at some of the other major companies cutting jobs as they struggle against economic headwinds.
A cheap night at home in front of the television may have new appeal for cost-conscious consumers these days, but that hasn't made television manufacturers and their employees immune to the recession.