US:Some Ford workers get bonus to stay on
Some Ford workers get bonus to stay on
Automaker doesn't want to lose them at a critical time
BY SARAH A. WEBSTER
DETROIT FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER
Ford Motor Co., trying to get its restructuring plan off the ground, is giving a small number of higher-level employees bonuses to stick around at the ailing company.
On Friday, the automaker announced changes to its restructuring plan that will cut 10,000 more salaried jobs by 2008, on top of 4,000 white-collar cuts made earlier this year.
On Tuesday, Ford sent employees the first outlines of the white-collar buyout proposals. The outlines explained three voluntary severance packages and a summary of what the workers might get if they are laid off. The programs will have some salaried workers leaving Ford by the end of the year and others by February.
The buyouts are a key component of Ford's revised Way Forward turnaround plan, which also includes buyout offers to all of Ford's 75,500 UAW hourly workers.
At the same time, the Dearborn-based automaker, which lost $1.4 billion in the first half of the year, is giving retention bonuses to a small number of high-level employees it doesn't want to lose during this critical time, people familiar with the program said.
The first Way Forward restructuring announced in January also included bonuses.
The second round coincides with the revamped plan released last week. It is unclear whether the bonuses were given to the same people twice or whether different employees were given incentives to stay this time.
Spokesman Tom Hoyt would not detail the amounts or who is receiving them.
The bonuses were confirmed on the same day Ford provided more information about how its employee and plant reductions would affect manufacturing operations.
As reported in the Sunday Free Press, the cuts would bring Ford's workforce in line with demand first, followed by its plants in 2010. By 2008, Ford would be using only 84% of its plant capacity. Automakers aim to use 100% to be the most cost-efficient.
In an e-mail to employees Wednesday, Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, said Ford would work to make sure employees have all the information to make sound decisions.
"During this difficult time, nothing is more important than frequent communication and absolute candor," he wrote. "I promise to continue the open lines of communication and to provide information when we have it available."
He added that Felicia Fields, vice president of human resources, would join him in his Webcast this week to provide details about how Ford will go about cutting jobs.
In October, workers also will be invited to a meeting that he called "a functional cascade," where information would be provided on how the Way Forward acceleration affects their organization.
This is Ford's third attempt at restructuring since 2002.
On Jan. 15 of that year, then-CEO Bill Ford announced a plan that aimed to cut 35,000 jobs and promised $7 billion in pretax profits by this year. That plan fell off course last year.
Profits tumbled to $2 billion in 2005, down from $3.5 billion in 2004. But Ford's worldwide automotive operations showed the real depth of the problem. Ford posted a $3.9-billion loss in its automotive operations last year -- nearly 20 times worse than the $200-million loss in 2004.
The solution to that bad performance was to be the Way Forward plan, announced Jan. 23. High fuel prices and plummeting truck sales, especially of the mainstay F-Series pickup, threw that plan off course, prompting Ford to announce its retooled plan last week.
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....