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By Jim Suhr / Associated Press

ST. LOUIS,MO -- Ford Motor Co. said Thursday it will lay off about 1,000 workers at its area assembly plant, or about 37 percent of the plant’s work force, in April.

The world’s second-largest automaker said the cuts, effective April 26, would result from the elimination of one of the Hazelwood plant’s two 10-hour shifts, Ford spokesman Ed Lewis said from the company’s headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. The plant employs 2,700 workers.

Displaced workers would be offered jobs at other Ford sites nationwide, Lewis said. Ford representatives were to spell out the layoffs with plant workers and managers Thursday.

“We struggle with these decisions. It’s a tough one, but it’s necessary to align consumer demand with production in the company’s business structure,” Lewis said.

In 2002, Ford announced it would close the Hazelwood plant by mid-decade but reversed its decision last September, agreeing as part of its latest contract with the United Auto Workers to keep the site open at least through 2007.

In midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Ford shares were down 77 cents at $14.81.
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