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MASS EXIT: 38,000 blue-collar workers apply to leave | SAVINGS: Stunning exodus could fuel comeback | FUTURE: Temporary workers will step in

Ford Motor Co. announced today that about 38,000 hourly production workers -- almost half of the automaker's U.S. factory work force -- have accepted buyouts or early retirement offers.

The figure includes approximately 30,000 buyouts during the open enrollment period that concluded late Monday, plus about 8,000 who took deals offered at limited plants earlier this year.

Blue-collar workers are not the only ones leaving the company. Ford is also well on its way to cutting some 14,000 white-collar jobs. Thousands of workers were laid off in February; Ford hopes to convince another 10,000 to take voluntary buyouts. If not, the company has said more layoffs will be coming.

Either way, some 50,000 U.S. Ford employees will leave the company over the next year, making this downsizing the biggest in the automaker's 103-year history.


GM spokesman Dan Flores said Tuesday that 34,410 out of about 120,000 union workers at GM accepted buyouts this year. Nearly 30,000 have left the company. GM's buyouts will be completed by January.

As Ford's losses mounted, the company had no choice but to follow suit. In September, Ford announced it would open the attrition plan to all UAW-represented employees. It also accelerated its timetable for idling factories and said it would close or sell all of the plants it took back from Visteon by the end of 2008. Ford has yet to sell any of these facilities, and many of the workers at these plants are eager to get jobs at Ford plants.
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