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Ford offers new buyouts in Hamburg

Ford Motor Co. has expanded its latest round of buyout offers to the Hamburg stamping plant, a union leader said.

The offers were extended to all 850 hourly workers represented by United Auto Workers Local 897 at the site, said Charles Gangarossa, UAW 897 president. The window to sign up for the buyout and early-retirement packages opened late last week and will close Oct. 31.

Ford made such offers earlier this year to hourly workers across the company but reportedly failed to attract as many takers as it had hoped. The automaker recently made another round of offers at selected plants, but until now the Hamburg plant was excluded.

Gangarossa said he could not predict how many of the plant's workers might take a buyout, given the uncertain state of the economy and an ongoing slump in auto sales.

The new round offers the same 10 packages as those presented to workers earlier this year. In that previous round, the UAW said about 80 workers at the Hamburg plant signed up for packages; the union said the company's target then was 135.

A Ford representative declined to say what its buyout target is this time around. In September, the Associated Press reported that Ford told UAW officials it was seeking to reduce its total production head count by more than 4,000.

Gangarossa said members who sign up would have to leave by Dec. 1 unless they are needed to support a specific piece of business. In those cases, the workers could stay until as late as June 1, 2009. The plant is preparing to start making parts for the Lincoln MKT.

The Hamburg site is feeling the impact of reduced sales of vehicles it produces stamped parts for, including the Ford Edge, Lincoln MKX and Ford Flex. Gangarossa said about 25 workers are on layoffs tied to volume reductions. He said the plant has scheduled production cutbacks during certain weeks in November, December, January and February.

e-mail: mglynn@buffnews.com

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