DETROIT -- About 1,700 Ford Motor Co. factory workers in the United States have accepted early retirement offers and will leave the company by June 1.
Ford said the buyout offers, which were unveiled last fall to reduce its ranks of skilled trades and production workers, ended on March 9. Of those who accepted the retirement offers, 920 are skilled-trades workers and the rest are production employees, Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans said.
Under terms of Ford's new labor contract with the UAW, the automaker offered lump-sum payments of $100,000 to skilled-trades workers and $50,000 to production workers to agree to retire.
Evans said the buyouts will allow laid-off workers in certain areas to return to work. Ford also will hire some replacement workers at lower wages as needed.
Ford has been working for many years to consolidate its skilled-trades job classifications, but Evans said the buyout wasn't targeted at any one group.
"It was strictly voluntary and we didn't have a targeted number that we expected to or needed to take it," she said.
Evans said the automaker won't replace all of the retiring workers but will add about 5,500 workers to help satisfy growing U.S. auto sales.
She said 1,200 jobs will be added at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., and the Chicago Assembly Plant for an additional shift at each facility.
Evans also said Ford is adding 1,800 jobs at its Louisville Assembly Plant to create a second shift, and will add an additional 1,300 jobs for a third shift in the second half of 2012. All three plants in Illinois, Michigan and Kentucky will have three shifts by year end.