3M Offers 4,900 Early Retirement Packages

The company, which is bracing for a weaker economy in 2012, is reportedly offering early retirement incentives to about 15 percent of its U.S. work force.

Maplewood-based 3M Company is reportedly offering early retirement incentive packages to nearly 5,000 of its employees who are approaching retirement age.

A company spokesperson told the Star Tribune that the move is “a prudent measure given the current economic environment.” The company started implementing cost-cutting measures during the third quarter, including a hiring freeze and travel cutbacks, the newspaper reported.

3M officials on Monday told managers and supervisors about the incentives and mailed letters to employees, according to the Minneapolis newspaper.

About 4,900 employees-or 15 percent of 3M's U.S. work force-are eligible for the incentive, and about 1,000 are expected to accept the deal, according to the Star Tribune. Employees must be at least 59 years old with five or more years of eligible pension service or be at least 55 years old and have at least 30 years of eligible pension service.

Workers reportedly need to decide by January 31 whether to accept the incentive, and those who take it will retire on February 1.

3M, which is bracing for a weaker economy in 2012, indicated that the retirement program would be cheaper than its job elimination program, according the Star Tribune. But the company hasn't disclosed what it plans to do if 1,000 employees don't accept the early retirement deal.

According to a report by the Pioneer Press, the last time 3M offered an early retirement program was in 2009, when packages were sent to 3,600 U.S. workers.

3M is Minnesota's fifth-largest public company based on its 2009 revenue, which totaled $23.1 billion. The company reported revenues of $26.7 billion in 2010.