DETROIT (AP) _ Ford Motor Co. plans to offer buyout and early retirement packages to more than 75,000 of its employees, a United Auto Workers union official said Thursday.
The union told its members about the plan after discussions with Ford on the proposal, said Chris Kimmons, president of UAW Local 919 at the Norfolk, Va., assembly plant.
The buybacks are aimed at helping Ford cut costs as its sales shrink under fierce competition from more fuel-efficient models from Asian automakers.
Ford's board of directors has been meeting for two days over expanding its restructuring plan. The nation's second biggest automaker said at midday Thursday that it would announce details of the new plan at 7 a.m. EDT Friday.
The plan is likely to include job cuts and plant closings to bring Ford's manufacturing capacity in line with slumping demand for its cars and trucks.
Kimmons said the packages offer $35,000 to $140,000 to workers who leave the company, depending on their years of service and retirement eligibility.
``I think it's a good package,'' he said. ``I think they worked real hard on it. They've got to do something to help Ford out of this crisis.''
Depending on which plan is chosen, workers may have to give up health benefits, Kimmons said.
``Once again, our members are stepping up to make hard choices under difficult circumstances,'' UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said in a statement. ``Now, it's Ford Motor Co.'s responsibility to lead this company in a positive direction _ which means using the skills, experience and dedication to quality that UAW members demonstrate every day in order to deliver quality vehicles to customers.''
The announcement came as Ford local leaders gathered in Detroit to discuss the situation at Ford.
Ford lost $1.4 billion during the first half of the year and is under pressure from Wall Street to make further cuts and roll out new cars and trucks more quickly.
In July, the company pledged to accelerate its ``Way Forward'' restructuring plan, which when introduced in January called for cutting up to 30,000 jobs and closing 14 facilities by 2012.