Autoworkers To Get AOL Benefit

November 2, 2000 ( - General Motors and DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler unit are the latest to connect their employees with the Internet, as part of a broad deal with America Online (AOL).

The deal is yet another instance of the broadening trend in corporate America to offer benefits that extend the information capability of workers.

In February, Ford Motor announced a plan to give employees free PCs and printers plus $5/month Internet access, joining companies such as Delta Air Lines, AMR Corp. and Intel.

The automakers will work with the United Auto Workers union to offer discounted access to nearly 300,000 US workers, who would pay $3/month for access to AOL’s traditional service, which generally costs $21.95/month.  Other services would cost more.

The deal also would allow US workers to get Hughes Electronics’ DirecTV interactive television service, and a receiver set-top box from Philips Electronics NV. Hughes is a unit of GM.

Workers will be also be able to access AOL through its AOLTV service, DirecTV, or the Philips receiver. The employee cost for the AOLTV and DirecTV package will be $31.95/month.

The companies expect to begin offering traditional AOL access in the first quarter of 2001. Financial details of the pact were not released.

The deal does not include free personal computers for workers, but GM said about 75% of its workers already have personal computers, according to Reuters.

The agreement also includes links to Workscape, a firm that will develop Internet portals for GM and DaimlerChrysler where employees can access their individual health and retirement benefits, as well as other personnel information.

DaimlerChrysler North American president Jim Holden says the service will be expanded to Canada, and DaimlerChrysler will later consider taking it worldwide.