When to Accept a Buyout

It's official. More than 47,000 auto workers will hit the road by the end of the year, having decided to accept GM's generous early-retirement offer. The buyout, designed to cut labor costs, may be good for GM -- but is it good for America? What woul

While some companies are freezing their pension plans, others, like General Motors, are using early-retirement incentives as a way to trim their workforce and cut costs. In late June, GM announced that more than 35,000 of its hourly workers, plus about half of the 24,000 employees at Delphi Corporation, its largest parts supplier and former subsidiary, accepted early-retirement packages.

The GM buyout is one of the largest of its kind, but it certainly isn't the first -- nor will it be the last. Chocolate-maker Hershey and credit-card company MBNA eliminated hundreds of jobs over the past year through voluntary severance and early-retirement offers. What would you do if you were offered the choice -- take the sweet deal or bet your future on the hope that your company will survive?

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Mary Beth Franklin
Former Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance