updated 8/30/2005 4:23:30 PM ET 2005-08-30T20:23:30

Ford Motor Co. plans to fire 400 U.S. salaried employees by the end of this year as part of a restructuring plan, a spokesman for the second biggest U.S. automaker said Tuesday.

It is the first time in 30 years that Ford has forced out so many white-collar workers, spokesman Oscar Suris said.

Ford has said it wants to reduce its North American salaried work force by 2,750 jobs by the end of this year, but Tuesday was the first time the company has confirmed that 400 of those employees will be fired. Some of those dismissals already have occurred, Suris said.

The company has been trying to reduce its work force through buyouts and voluntary separations, but only 1,000 people had left the company by the end of July. Ford has 35,000 salaried workers in North America.

The firings were announced in an e-mail to midlevel and senior managers from Ford president and chief operating officer Jim Padilla. The employees will be given severance packages according to their years of service with the company, Suris said.

Ford announced earlier this month that it would cut costs by consolidating its Ford and Lincoln Mercury marketing divisions and shedding sales jobs. Last week, chairman and chief executive Bill Ford said the company would make a “comprehensive announcement” this fall that will include a more competitive business model. He declined to be specific but said the plan will not be limited to cost cuts.

The Dearborn-based automaker is saddled with high labor and health care costs at the same time its U.S. market share is falling. Ford’s U.S. market share fell to 17.9 percent in the January-July period from 18.5 percent a year ago.

Ford’s profits fell 19 percent in the second quarter to $946 million from $1.17 billion a year ago. Its sales were flat in the first seven months of this year.

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