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White-collar layoffs will start this week

Bryce G. Hoffman / The Detroit News

DEARBORN -- Ford Motor Co. will begin laying off thousands of white-collar workers in Dearborn and around the country this week as part of the company's North American restructuring plan, according to people familiar with the situation.

Ford workers told The Detroit News on Saturday that boxes already are being stacked up at some locations and conference rooms have been reserved for meetings with affected employees.

In November, Ford Americas President Mark Fields told employees the company would cut about 4,000 white-collar positions by the end of March as part of its "Way Forward" plan, the details of which will be released Monday.

"Our leadership team has put into motion the difficult but necessary decision to further reduce our salaried-related personnel costs in North America by an average of about 10 percent," Fields wrote in the memo. "This will affect every function, including our corporate staffs, and will involve the reduction of salaried, agency and purchased services costs equivalent to about 4,000 positions."

Ford has acknowledged that impending job cuts have created stress and anxiety within its white-collar ranks. In recent weeks, human resources teams at Ford have held off-site meetings to discuss the proper way to handle the layoffs.

Some engineering workers say they have contacted unions representing engineers at other companies to ask for help in responding to the job cuts.

In December, Ford revised the terms of its severance plans for white-collar workers, reducing the time the company would pay for health insurance and also limiting other benefits.
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