Smyrna, Tennessee – Nissan North America Inc. is offering a buyout program to technicians and salaried employees at its assembly plants in Smyrna and Decherd, Tennessee. The company is reducing staff levels at the two plants, including elimination of the night shift at its truck production in Smyrna.

The plan offers employees a lump sum of US$100,000 or US$125,000, depending on tenure, plus medical and car purchase benefits. The program spans three years, with employees able to sign up for the program in fiscal years 2008, 2009 or 2010, although those who sign up in 2009 or 2010 will receive reduced benefits over signing up in 2008.

Nissan cited poor sales of full-size trucks and SUVs as the reason for the offer, and said in a statement that through the program, “employment levels can be reduced in a way that benefits the employees and meets the company’s staffing requirements for manufacturing.” The company employs about 5,500 hourly and salaried employees at its vehicle assembly plant in Smyrna, and about 1,100 at its powertrain assembly plant in Decherd. The company had previously offered a one-time program in 2007 that it said was “well received”.

The plan does not affect employees at Nissan’s manufacturing plant in Canton, Mississippi. Earlier, Nissan announced that due to a market shift to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, it had eliminated one shift of truck production and added a third shift of Altima sedan production. The Altima is produced at both Canton and Smyrna.

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