DETROIT -- Come January, employees at Ford Motor Co. plants in Wixom, Mich., and St. Louis should finally learn whether their jobs are on the chopping block.
That's when the automaker will reveal the final, crucial details of its restructuring plan. CEO Bill Ford said Thursday, Oct. 20, that the January announcement will include "significant plant closings" and deeper cost-cutting moves that will affect all levels of the company.
Ford Motor's new North American leadership team will have the next several weeks to finalize targeted plants and the number of job cuts. Mark Fields, president of the Americas, and Anne Stevens, COO of the Americas, will bring their recommendations to Bill Ford in December.
Ford Motor already has announced some elements of this latest turnaround plan, including the sale of its Hertz rental car unit. But the January announcement of plant shutdowns would be its biggest step so far.
"Our most significant challenge going forward is our cost structure, which clearly isn't where it needs to be," Bill Ford said.
The company isn't naming plants yet, but the Wixom and St. Louis plants, both one-shift operations, look most vulnerable. Once plant closures are identified, the company likely can make deeper cuts in its salaried ranks.
Bill Ford pledged that the cuts will go beyond UAW-represented workers. The automaker is reducing its payroll throughout North America, especially in areas of the business that don't contribute to profits directly.
"There will be sacrifices asked of people throughout our company from top to bottom in these very difficult circumstances, and we will reduce structure as well as jobs," Bill Ford said.
Ford Motor also is negotiating with the UAW on health care cost reductions. Bill Ford said he expects the union to give Ford the same types of breaks it has offered to General Motors. More details about health care concessions also are likely in January.
Bill Ford talked about the turnaround plan as Ford Motor announced a third-quarter net loss of $284 million on Thursday. The loss underscored the unraveling of Ford Motor's core automotive operation.
The company's global auto business reported pretax losses of $1.34 billion in the third quarter. Of that, $1.2 billion came from North America, where sales and market share are faltering.
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