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As American companies struggle to compete in a global market, they are increasingly considering the merits of eliminating or reducing costly retiree benefits. For many companies, the costs of these benefits have become staggering. For example, before recently announcing plans to freeze health benefits for tens of thousands of its white-collar retirees, Ford Motor Co. was facing health care expenses of more than $3.5 billion. Its rival, General Motors, which according to recent reports owes a projected $89 billion in welfare and pension benefits to its current and future retirees, just announced that it will offer workers with 10 years’ experience a payment of $140,000 and a pension, if in return these workers will leave their employment and forgo health care benefits.

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