- The Washington Times - Friday, September 15, 2006

The Ford Motor Co. announced today it will reduce its North American work force by almost one-third in an attempt to stem financial losses and remake the ailing company into a more competitive automaker.

The restructuring plans include cutting more than 10,000 additional salaried jobs, offering buyouts to all of Ford’s 75,000 U.S. hourly workers and shutting two more plants than previously announced. The cuts are in addition to Ford’s previous plan to close 14 plants.

The buyout packages offer $35,000 to $140,000 to workers who leave the company, depending on their years of service and retirement eligibility.

The cuts are due to consumers shifting away from pickups and sport utility vehicles — Ford’s best-sellers — to smaller, more fuel-efficient cars and crossovers, many made by Asian automakers.

Ford had about 82,000 workers represented by the United Auto Workers at the end of last year, but about 6,500 have taken previous buyout and early retirement offers made mainly at plants slated for closure.

Today’s announcement came after the board of directors met for two days in Detroit to discuss plans to cut jobs and shut factories at a rate faster than previously planned.

The UAW, which negotiated with Ford on the cutbacks, has agreed to the deal.

“Once again, our members are stepping up to make hard choices under difficult circumstances,” said President Ron Gettelfinger.

No member will be forced to take a buyout.

“We remain deeply concerned about Ford’s loss of market share, and committed to working together” with Ford, said UAW Vice President Bob King, who directs the union’s Ford Department. “Even with all the problems in the auto industry, UAW members at Ford will continue to have a voice in their own destiny.”

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