By Jeff Gilbert

DETROIT — (WWJ) General Motors is freezing its traditional pension plan for salaried workers, and moving them more toward a 401k style “defined contribution” plan.

“We believe this is going to make us more competitive in every aspect of our business,” said Cindy Brinkley, GM’s vice president of Global Human Resources.

Workers who had been hired after 2001 had been on this defined contribution plan, but those hired before that time had remained on the more traditional defined benefit plan, which sends them a monthly pension check after retirement.

That will change this fall.

“We’re moving them to that defined contribution plan for their future service,” said Brinkley. “Pension benefits that were earned under the previous plan will stop accruing after September 30th. October 1st is when the employees will move into this new plan.”

Brinkley said that pension benefits earned before the transition would be paid as promised. This change, she said, only effects benefits earned after October 1, 2012.

This also does not affect GM manufacturing employees, who work under a defined benefit plan as outlined by the company’s contract with the UAW.

The high costs of traditional pension plans have prompted many companies to move to defined contribution plans, where workers contribute money to an account, and employers add matching funds. The account is then used to pay the workers during their retirement.

The advantage to workers is that the account becomes their property, even if they leave the company. The disadvantage is that once the account runs out of money, there are no payments.

“They will have control over their pension, and their finances,” said Brinkley.

This change will affect about 19 thousand workers, or 70 percent of GM’s salaried work force in North America.

General Motors also telling workers today that there will be no across-the-board pay raises. Instead, extra compensation will come in the form of bonuses. Those bonuses will be announced when GM announces its 2011 earnings Thursday morning.

Some “top performers” and “those with the most critical skills” will see pay increases, GM said.

Salaried workers will get five more vacation days each year. In the past, they were able to purchase those extra days. Brinkley says in addition to helping workers with work-life balance, this ends something that had been an accounting problem for the company.

Brinkley said GM compared other companies compensation plans as it worked out the changes, and the goal was not to cut compensation overall, but to link that compensation to performance.

“This is just another in a long line of trying to be more competitive with our pay and benefits that we’re trying to provide to our employees.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Email: jdgilbert@cbs.com
Facebook: facebook.com/carchronicles
Twitter: @jefferygilbert

Comments (8)
  1. Doug Ripley says:

    So the lazy union morons still collect…one day this will all end and it will not be soon enough!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Hondo says:

    So GM starts sticking it to the salaried employees again, pre-bail-out. This is, again, a harbinger for failure. They will expect, no demand, excellence among their staff, but only provide them with “average” salaries, insurance and insurance. AND Hide behind the contract to avoid sticking to the union folk, for now.

  3. gabby says:

    As usual, GM takes away another benefit that was promised at the time of hire. Leave well enough alone with the salaried employees that have given up most of their lives to help GM with their success. Stop being greedy and say a thank you. Yes, I agree with being more competitive, however, if you were hired prior to all this bail out and “New” GM they deserve to keep their pensions the way they are.

  4. Char says:

    Looks like old Doug,is a little jealous of the benefits gained by being a member of a union……………. I say more power to them. Like Hondo said, it is just another matter of GM sticking it to the salaired workforce because they know they can get by with it.

  5. Save Ourselves says:

    Another reason not to bring your engineering degree to Michigan. The GM aggressor capitalist, Admiral Akerson, is just making sure if the cruise liner rolls on his watch, nobody will have a life jacket.

    Hey Michigan, understand Detroit auto is only about the top 1% rich and profit margins are eroded by pension benefits. Maybe Mitt Romney will support right to unemployment in Michigan

    1. Imah says:

      Malik Bhai, It is indeed a great froeft to share and enlighten others with such knowledge. Honestly, it is my wish and prayer to see you taking that GIANT STEP in crossing the bridge to entrepreneurship soon !! The biggest RISK in life is not taking RISK !!Wish you the very best for all your endeavors in life.

  6. gabby says:

    Really……GM should offer a grandfather date of maybe anyone hired prior to 2000 will be grandfathered.

  7. Mandy says:

    it is a option for saving.i like it.thanks for sharing

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