updated 9/26/2006 5:08:51 PM ET 2006-09-26T21:08:51

Another 1,400 hourly workers have decided to accept auto supplier Delphi Corp.’s buyout offers, meaning that the struggling company will lose more than 70 percent of its work force by the end of the year.

Delphi released the buyout numbers Tuesday, bringing to 20,100 the number of its production workers who have decided to leave this year either through buyout offers or early retirement packages.

Delphi had 27,500 unionized workers as of June 30, and 12,400 United Auto Workers union members previously accepted early retirement and buyout offers. Another 6,300 members of the International Union of Electronic Workers-Communications Workers of America also will take buyouts or early retirements, Delphi said.

The buyouts of up to $140,000 per worker are another victory for current members of the UAW but another loss for the future of the union and for organized labor as union membership dwindles.

The UAW had 1.2 million members 20 years ago; it now has less than 600,000. Twenty percent of the nation’s work force was unionized in 1983. By 2005, union membership had dropped to 12.5 percent of the work force, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

All Delphi workers who accepted the early retirement and buyout offers will be off the payroll by Jan. 1, with several thousand replaced by lower-paid temporary workers as the company closes or sells 21 of its 29 U.S. plants, Delphi spokesman Lindsey Williams said.

Delphi, the former parts-making wing of General Motors Corp., said the work force reduction will help transform its U.S. manufacturing operations. Delphi, the nation’s largest auto parts supplier, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October.

The departures do not include about 5,000 other Delphi workers who will leave the company and return to GM.

Workers taking early retirements were offered a lump sum payment of $35,000, while others will be given buyout packages ranging from $40,000 to $140,000, Delphi said. Employees accepting buyouts would give up all benefits except for vested, accrued pensions.

The buyouts are part of an effort to provide early retirement incentives to Delphi workers as the Troy-based company seeks to cut its work force.

GM has agreed to provide financial support under the plan.

Delphi continues to negotiate with GM and its unions on wage reductions for its remaining hourly workers.

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