Justin Schneider, The Herald Bulletin

Guide Corp. appears to be shedding its Anderson work force and cutting costs in anticipation of a plant shutdown in mid-2007.

According to Guide employee Chad Short, employees with less than 10 years' experience were offered a $70,000 buyout package this week, and those with 10 years or more were given the choice of $140,000 or transfer to a General Motors Corp. facility.

Short, 34, was among the first group of employees hired in 1999, commonly known as the "99ers." He said the word from Guide is that the plant will stop production next year.

"We kind of feel like we're getting ripped in the deal," said Short, who heard the announcement on Tuesday. "The news right now is that if they choose to stay here, they're expecting to go around until next June. GM is hoping by then that this plant is closed."

Steve Lewis, president of UAW Local 663, which represents Guide's hourly employees, did not comment on any offers, but said more information will be available in seven to 10 days. Phone messages left in the Guide public relations office were not returned Wednesday.

The Anderson plant, which manufactures headlights and taillights for GM vehicles, employs around 1,200 workers.

"GM is backing this deal," Short said. "If Guide can't fulfill the whole thing and has to file bankruptcy, GM will take it over."

He said employees must have 52 days to consider buyout offers.

"Most of the 99ers, I've talked to some of them, most of us feel like we're getting ripped on the deal," Short said. "If we take $70,000, we're making GM money. Why would we take $70,000 when we have a contract that ends in 2009? All the 99ers I talked to said 'no way.'"

Any rumored offerings are subject to change until the official word comes down from GM.

After seven years as a job setter for Guide, Short said the future looks uncertain.

"Myself, I'm hoping for a transfer," Short said. "Not that I want to transfer, but I don't want to give a good job up like this. Not at this point. My options will be open if they basically drop us out on the street. Personally, I don't have any backup plan. It kind of sucks; we all got to start over."

On Sept. 6, Lewis and other local representatives gave the International UAW officials the authority to negotiate with Guide and GM.

In June, Guide lost the lamp contract for the Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy and Buick Ranier sport utility vehicles. Employees received a letter stating that at least 180 workers would be permanently laid off by December.

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