All Ford workers will get bonuses

All Ford workers will get bonuses http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070308/BUSINESS01/70308043/1025/FEATURES
After a $12.7-billion loss last year and widespread buyout programs, Ford
Motor Co. tried to boost morale Thursday by announcing that everyone would be getting a bonus.
The bonuses will be $500 for UAW workers and $300 to $800 for nonmanagement salaried workers, and most will be paid out next Thursday. Salaried managers will receive slightly higher bonuses.
"Because we did not accomplish all of our objectives last year, the awards will be modest," Ford Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally said in an e-mail to employees. "Still, we want to recognize and reward your accomplishments, because you made vital contributions to our future."
The bonuses will go to all current employees in the United States and Canada - and those who recently took buyouts - plus overseas managers. Assuming $500 for each of about 125,000 employees, the cost to the company would be about $62.5 million.
The bonuses come during a tumultuous time at the Dearborn automaker. Last year, Ford started a Way Forward turnaround plan that called for closing 16 plants and cutting 30,000 hourly and 14,000 salaried jobs.
UAW leadership applauded the move to give bonuses to all workers. "With today's announcement of bonuses for all Ford workers, the company has recognized the hard work and dedication of UAW-represented hourly and salaried workers," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said in a statement.
The bonuses differ from the long-established practice of paying profit-sharing checks to UAW members when the company makes money from its North American automotive operations. UAW members who work for Ford received an average of $600 apiece in 2005 related to the company's performance in 2004.
UAW members who work for General Motors Corp. or the Chrysler Group are not expected to receive profit-sharing checks for last year's performance.
Most workers will be pleased to hear about the bonuses, even if the amounts are small, said John Wallbank, 59, a millwright at Ford's Wixom plant, one of the facilities due to close.
"I don't think I'll turn it down," Wallbank said.
But the bonuses cannot completely erase what has been a difficult year for Ford workers, he said. Many were angered in January when they found out Ford executives would receive bonuses for meeting quality and cost-cutting goals.
"The whole buyout and shop-closing experience has been chaotic," Wallbank said. "This is no doubt an effort to mollify us and to get some bonuses to the executives.. It will help a little bit."
AutoPacific President and analyst George Peterson said he saw the bonuses as Ford throwing a bone to hourly workers as the company enters contract negotiations. "I think you'd really call it a gesture, but not a meaningful one," Peterson said.
The bonuses announced Thursday follow news relayed to employees earlier in the week about progress made toward the cost-cutting goal in the salaried workforce, and continuing cuts to long-standing benefit programs for hourly workers.
In a wave of buyouts that started last fall, Ford was able to get 6,000 white-collar employees to accept offers, Mark Fields, Ford president of the Americas, told employees Wednesday in an internal webcast. Ford had set of target of eliminating the equivalent of 10,000 positions.
The company had said involuntary separations could be used if the target was not met, but could not say Thursday whether they would be needed or how many if the company chose that route, said Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans.
The target of 10,000 positions was part of the Way Forward goal that called for reducing Ford's salaried workforce costs by about one-third. About 4,000 white-collar workers left the company before the most-recent wave of buyout programs.
Ford department heads will have to assess the impact of the departed workers before the company can determine what will be needed next, Evans said.
The company does not a have a time frame for when that analysis will be completed, nor for when workers will know whether involuntary layoffs are needed, Evans said.
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