About 1,700 Ford Motor Co. factory workers have decided to take early retirement offers and will leave the company by June 1.
The automaker says it will bring back about 250 laid-off employees and hire some replacements at lower wages.
Ford offered the buyouts to all 41,000 factory workers last fall in an effort to cut its skilled trades and production workforces. It offered skilled trades workers like electricians and plumbers $100,000 to retire. Production workers were offered $50,000. The company has about 9,000 skilled tradesmen, which it says is too many.
Spokeswoman Marcey Evans says Ford won't replace all of the retiring workers. New factory hires will be paid around $16 per hour, a little more than half the wage of a longtime union worker. Skilled tradesmen make above $30 per hour, but changes in factory equipment in recent years have cut the number of workers needed.
Ford is adding thousands of workers this year to help satisfy growing U.S. auto sales. Factories in Wayne, Mich., near Detroit; Louisville, Ky.; Chicago and near Kansas City, Mo. are getting additional workers.