back health benefits for white-collar workers
Many retirees' benefits will be eliminated; those for
active employees will be reduced. About 135 workers in St. Paul
By Dee DePass
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Friday, November 3, 2006
White-collar workers at Ford Motor Co. got an unwelcome surprise
this week when management announced that health care benefits
for many white-collar retirees will be eliminated, while those
for active salaried employees will be reduced. The cutback is
expected to save hundreds of millions of dollars for the
beleaguered automaker, which posted a $5.8 billion third-quarter
The Detroit News reported the move Thursday. Ford plans to
terminate company health insurance for salaried retirees over
age 65 and eligible for Medicare. Instead, it will offer about
$1,800 a year to help defray the cost of supplemental Medicare
coverage or out-of-pocket medical expenses. Ford also plans to
end merit pay raises for salaried workers next year and to raise
most health care premiums for those workers by about 30 percent
beginning June 1.
Ford last month began issuing buyout offers to all union and
some salaried workers. More salaried buyout offers will roll
out this week and in the middle of December, spokeswoman Marcey
Salaried workers will have 21 days to decide; union workers are
getting six weeks. The buyout offers are part of Ford's plan to
shed 14,000 salaried and 30,000 union workers across North
America by 2012.
At Ford's Ranger truck plant in St. Paul, which will close in
2008, there are 135 white-collar salaried employees, down from
about 155 earlier this year. The plant also has about 1,725
Roger Terveen, president of UAW Local 879, said the number of
salaried employees at the plant has dropped, largely through
"The numbers have dropped for the simple reason that a lot are
bailing out and finding other job opportunities," Terveen said.
"There is not a lot of future opportunity for white-collar
workers to stay with Ford, so they are looking at outside work."
Mike Goldman, a team leader for Minnesota's Dislocated Workers
Program, said Ford's health care premium increases and merit pay
changes could be "a disincentive for sticking around."
In a meeting Thursday with managers and union workers, Goldman
suggested that all Ford workers who are concerned about the
changes should enroll in Minnesota's Dislocated Workers Program,
which provides counseling, skills assessment and job hunting
"There has been a misconception that the dislocated workers
program was just for union workers. It's not. It's for
salaried workers too," Goldman said. "We want to make it clear
that any Ford employee is eligible for the program right now."
Workers should call 651-696-7963 or 651-297-7293 for more
Of the 1,800 workers at the St. Paul plant, 300 (mostly union
employees) have signed up to date, a number that should be
considerably higher, state officials said.
Dee DePass • 612-673-7725 •