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Big Three sacrifices expected

The body of a new 2009 Hummer H3T can be seen in the Shreveport (La.) GM plant. Shreveport’s work force is down to fewer than 800.


DETROIT — A list of job cuts, shuttered factories, canceled bonuses and commitments to fuel-efficient cars won’t be enough next week when U.S. automakers get another shot to persuade Congress to give them $25 billion in loans.

Through the Thanksgiving weekend, teams will be tagging more meat to throw at skeptical lawmakers who vilified the automakers’ top executives the last time they went to Washington. That means executive pay cuts, union concessions, and perhaps even higher fuel economy requirements and a glimpse at top-secret product plans.

At General Motors Corp., the largest of the Detroit Three and probably the most needy, teams are preparing a detailed plan, first for GM’s board on Monday, then for delivery to Congress by a Tuesday deadline. The House Financial Services Committee plans to hear testimony on the loan requests Dec. 5.

Steve Adamske, a spokesman for committee chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., said this week that each company is expected to submit a report that will be made public to “give confidence to the people that we’re not giving good money after bad.”

People with knowledge of the plans being built by GM and Chrysler say they will contain more than just details of past restructuring. At GM, the company has slashed production and cut its U.S. payroll from 177,000 eight years ago to the current 104,000. Chrysler LLC’s worldwide work force has been slashed from 123,180 10 years ago to about 66,000 today.

The person briefed on GM’s preparations, who didn’t want to be identified because of the plan hasn’t been finalized, says it is likely to include new, more visible sacrifices from top executives, even working for $1 per year. Also on the table are concessions from the United Auto Workers, including elimination of the much-criticized jobs bank in which laid-off workers keep getting most of their pay.

Executive pay cuts are almost a certainty, given the language in a letter House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., sent to the automakers last week demanding detailed plans.

The Bush administration, meanwhile, told Congress that the Detroit companies must show how they can cover their sizable labor costs and huge employee retirement obligations.

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