Ford falls short of buyout target

Ford Motor Co. appears to have fallen short of its goals in the latest — and Ford says last — round of company-wide buyouts for hourly workers, according to people familiar with the situation.

CEO Alan Mulally hinted as much during a speech to Wall Street analysts Wednesday morning, but said there are "other levers" the automaker can pull if necessary to further downsize its North American manufacturing base to match declining demand for its cars and trucks.

"We have a lot of different mechanisms to keep right-sizing the place," Mulally said during a speech at the Morgan Stanley Global Automotive Conference in New York. Although Mulally would not discuss what Ford might do to further reduce its U.S. factory work force, a person familiar with the situation told The Detroit News that the company might offer targeted buyouts at certain facilities or to certain categories of employees. That person stressed that Ford has no interest in another round of nationwide buyouts.

Labor expert Gary Chaison, a professor at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., said the automaker would have to sweeten the pot for those buyouts to be effective.

"The idea of targeted buyouts makes some sense," he said. "But they can only offer buyouts so many times." Detroit News

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