General Motors Corp. says about 19,000 of its 74,000 U.S. hourly employees will participate in the company’s most recent attrition program, part of a deal it brokered with United Auto Workers union during last year’s labor negotiations.

However, the auto maker declines comment on reports of additional restructuring plans expected to be released next week.

Industry experts and Wall Street analysts hoped for a larger attrition figure, but it arrives close to where UAW President Ron Gettelfinger predicted three months ago.

“I think you’ll see (a) number below 20,000,” Gettelfinger told journalists in February.

GM says most of the workers will leave the company no later than July 1. Wherever possible, job openings will be filled with current employees who lose their jobs at other facilities due to cutbacks, the auto maker adds. At plants where it needs new workers, hires will start in at the entry-level wage and benefit structure GM negotiated with the UAW last year.

“Despite significant challenges in the U.S. market, we continue to reshape our business for long-term success,” GM North America President Troy Clarke says. “This attrition program gives us an opportunity to restructure our U.S. workforce through the entry-level wage and benefit structure for new hourly employees.”

GM successfully negotiated a new 4-year labor agreement with the UAW last year. The landmark agreement paves the way for a reduction in the auto maker’s U.S. hourly ranks, while allowing a 2-tier wage and benefit structure and shift in retiree health-care costs to a fund financed by GM and run by the UAW.

With this latest round of departures, GM has shed 53,000 employees from its hourly workforce since its massive restructuring began two years ago.

Following on the heels of a Ford Motor Co. announcement yesterday it would cut up to 12% of its white-collar staff by Aug. 1 in light of continuing slumping U.S. vehicle sales, The Wall Street Journal reports GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner will announce additional restructuring action at the company’s annual meeting June 3.

The paper says GM plans make additional production cuts on the pickup and SUV side of its business and speed up the release of new passenger cars and cross/utility vehicles.