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We just received a tip letting us know Nissan will be offering a "voluntary transition program" โ€” otherwise known as a "cash buyout" โ€” to all workers in the automaker's Smyrna and Decherd, Tennessee plants. The Smyrna plant began by building trucks and SUV's, but has recently moved into car production โ€” a less labor-intensive process. Decherd makes engines. All hourly workers will be offered the plan which includes cash incentives of "$45,000 lump sum payment and an additional $500 for each year of service." We've also been told the program will not be offered to employees at other Nissan manufacturing locations in North America. Full e-mail sent to employees is after the jump.

Nissan announces Voluntary Transition Program to Tennessee manufacturing hourly workers

Nissan North America, Inc. announced today a Voluntary Transition Program for its hourly production and maintenance technicians at manufacturing plants in Smyrna and Decherd, Tenn. The program includes a $45,000 lump sum payment and an additional $500 for each year of service. The program will not be offered to employees at other Nissan manufacturing locations in North America .

Nissan's productivity in Tennessee plants has always been high and gains continue to outpace low employee attrition levels. Also, higher demand for passenger cars, such as the Altima and soon to be released Altima Coupe, combined with lower demand for trucks and sport utility vehicles results in a manufacturing mix that is less labor-intensive to build and that requires fewer assembly workers. Through this program, employment levels can be reduced in a way that benefits both the hourly employees and the company's assembly requirements.

Because the program is offered on a voluntary basis, overall acceptance rates will depend on individual employee decisions. Employees will have until March 13 to decide whether they want to participate, and if they so choose, will resign or retire from the company before June 30.

Nissan will provide hourly employees with as much information as they need to make an informed decision, and expect around 300 will accept the program.

Nissan employs 5,200 hourly employees at its vehicle assembly plant in Smyrna, and 1,000 hourly employees at its powertrain assembly plant in Decherd.

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