- The Washington Times - Monday, January 20, 2003

DETROIT, Jan. 20 (UPI) — Ford Motor Co. is marking a surprising turnaround in its fortunes by giving profit-sharing checks worth an average of $160 to its hourly employees.

About 95,000 employees will receive the checks March 12 and all eligible salaried employees will receive merit increases this summer.

Ford, which lost $5.45 billion in 2001, Friday said it would pay "modest performance bonuses to eligible non-management employees" in the United States and Canada.

Hit by an industry-wide downturn, neither Ford, General Motors nor Chrysler paid profit-sharing two years ago and Ford had not been expected to pay profit-sharing or bonuses for a second year as it presses forward with revitalization plans.

Corporate Vice President for Human Relations Joe Laymon said Ford had made enough progress in the fourth-quarter that it would realize a small profit for 2002, despite reporting net losses of $556 million through the third quarter.

The Detroit Free Press said Ford would report an operating profit of $772 million though September when it announces fourth-quarter earnings Tuesday.

"If the performance generates the profits, we are to share them," Laymon said.

GM last week said it will distribute profit-sharing checks averaging $940 to 130,000 U.S. hourly employees for 2002, the largest profit-sharing payout to UAW employees since 1999.

Chrysler is expected to hand out profit-sharing checks ranging from $500 to $1,000 to more than 65,000 workers when it reports 2002 earnings Feb. 20.

The amount of profit sharing paid to hourly workers is determined by a formula negotiated with the United Auto Workers.

Ford handed out record profit-sharing checks of $6,100 per worker in 1998.

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