Ford Motor Co.'s latest buyout and early retirement offers were accepted by 4,200 hourly workers, or just over half the total the company was said to be aiming for — raising the possibility of layoffs.
The figure released Thursday, showing that about 8 percent of the 54,000 United Auto Workers employees who were offered the deal took it, means Ford could offer more packages to workers at selected factories.
CEO Alan Mulally said on a conference call Thursday that the company would keep working with unions to further reduce the hourly work force at closed factories or those affected by production cuts. He also would not rule out layoffs at some facilities.
"That's clearly a possibility, but right now our plan is not to do that," he said.
Ford hasn't said how many workers it wanted to leave, but a person with knowledge of the company's goals told The Associated Press earlier this year that the company was hoping for a minimum of 8,000 workers as it tries to shrink its factory capacity to match lower demand for its products. The person didn't want to be identified because the target number wasn't officially released.
The company announced Thursday that it would cut second-quarter production in North America by 101,000 vehicles from the same period last year.
Chief Financial Officer Don Leclair said the figure is 20,000 less than the company's previous guidance and includes 40,000 fewer trucks, partly offset by increased car production.
Mulally said further plant closures are unlikely, and the company would cut production by removing shifts, most likely at plants that make larger vehicles.
"So clearly, that is an area that will need our special attention to match that capacity to the demand," he said.
He would not talk about the potential for more reductions in the salaried work force.
Ford offered 10 buyout or early retirement packages to blue-collar workers and earlier said this was expected to be the last companywide offer.
The deadline for employees to make a decision was in March, with many torn between passing up a deal or staying on as Ford downsizes and its finances improve. They also could lose their jobs if the company falters.
In 2006, about 33,600 workers left the company by taking similar packages.
Workers could get $50,000 to $140,000 depending on seniority. Some of the packages pay for education or help people start their own businesses. Ford has made the offers to all hourly employees represented by the UAW.