Ford Motor had warned that an $11 billion restructuring would translate into white-collar job cuts, and after a trickle of “separations” since last fall, the spigot opened this week.
The company confirmed that 500 salaried U.S. white-collar workers were notified starting Monday that they would be laid off, and more will be notified into the next month, for a total of 800 in North America.
Ford wouldn’t say precisely what that means for Louisville’s two assembly plants when contacted Tuesday.
“We’re not able to dimension the specific locations of where the salaried separations are taking place,” Detroit-based spokeswoman Kelli Felker wrote in an email. “We are just providing context that in total we expect about 800 separations in North America for all of our redesign process,” which will wrap up by the end of June.
Most of the 500 laid off this week are concentrated at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, so the number of people affected in Louisville “would be a limited number,” spokeswoman Marisa Bradley added.
None of the reductions affect the company’s unionized hourly work forces. Terms of the layoffs were not disclosed, but Bradley said that employees will receive severance pay based on their years of service, plus some continuation of some benefits and help finding another job.
At Kentucky Truck Plant, there are nearly 400 full-time salaried workers, and at least 200 white-collar positions at Louisville Assembly Plant. Both factories have been busy on different fronts, with KTP integrating 500 hourly workers who were transferred from LAP earlier this year to meet increased demand for Ford’s largest SUVs, the Expedition and Lincoln Navigator.
LAP is currently ramping up to launch the redesigned Escape and the former Lincoln MKC, renamed and re-imagined from the tires up as the Corsair.
Todd Dunn, president of the United Auto Workers Local 862, which represents all union workers at the Louisville facilities, said he wasn’t briefed on how the area’s salaried force would be affected. Overall, Ford managers were meticulous in trying to cut “layers of communication.”
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“They involved a lot of the teams in how they’d restructure themselves” before settling on a plan and carrying it out, Dunn said.
The Detroit Free Press reported that by the end of August, the automaker envisions 7,000 voluntary and involuntary job cuts worldwide since its reorganization started in fall 2018, which includes an estimated 400 layoffs outside the United States. In total, the cuts amount to about 10% of the company’s global salaried workforce, according to a note to employees from Ford CEO Jim Hackett, as quoted by the Free Press.
On Monday, Hackett wrote that “consistent with our goal to reduce bureaucracy, we will have reduced management structure by close to 20% … this will result in annual savings of about $600 million. We also made significant progress in eliminating bureaucracy, speeding up decision making and driving empowerment as part of this redesign.”
Hackett described the parting with longtime colleagues as “difficult and emotional. We have moved away from past practices in some regions where team members who were separated had to leave immediately with their belongings, instead giving people the choice to stay for a few days to wrap up and say goodbye. We also have a range of resources and services in place to support employees in managing this transition. I hope that you take a moment to thank them personally for their service and commitment to Ford.”
The chatter on the website thelayoff.com included one worker who said “how well you perform your job has nothing to do with this lay off. It is all about cutting big salaries. If you are at least 55 and 30 years in you are standing on quick sand.”
The employee mentioned he or she was “just let go this morning. I’ve moved all over with this company, took huge financial hits having to sell home and relocate when housing market tanked. I’ve easily clocked 70 hour work weeks, took work on vacations too. Can’t wait to see how they do without me! Good luck!!”
Detroit media sounded a cautious note, reporting Tuesday afternoon that industry analysts scoff at Ford’s reduction of 7,000 when far more — up to 23,000 — are needed to reshape the company headed into what’s expected to be challenging years ahead.
Detroit Free Press reporter Phoebe Wall Howard contributed to this report. Contact Grace Schneider: 502-582-4082; [email protected]; Twitter: @gesinfk. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/graces
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