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MORE than 1,000 workers take voluntary layoffs from Lucent plant

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ More than 1,000 workers at Oklahoma City's Lucent plant _ a quarter of the work force _ have volunteered to leave their jobs in exchange for termination packages, plant Manager David Orme said.

The company was looking for 400 employees who were willing to leave the plant for termination packages that could be worth more than $100,000, but about 900 workers reportedly asked to volunteer for the buyouts.

After details were worked out, the reduction will cut 1,018 production and clerical jobs, which are scheduled to end June 29.

``I don't think the number was excessively large, but it was a little bigger than what we had expected the maximum would be,'' Orme said.

Had the plant not gotten 400 volunteers, an involuntary layoff was planned.

The voluntary termination plan was offered in May to slim the plant and make it more attractive for sale. The Oklahoma City plant once employed as many as 4,000.

Orme said it was too early to discuss possibly rehiring some people to meet a big production order.

``Some production can be increased dramatically with just a few people,'' he said. ``It depends on the specific product.''

About 2,900 people will be left to operate the Lucent Technologies Inc. plant, which makes circuit switches. Lucent can operate by shifting people to different work areas and using equipment already available, Orme said.

A similar offer was made to workers at a sister plant in Columbus, Ohio, where 900 accepted the offer but only 566 could be accommodated, said Lucent spokeswoman Mary Ward.

Lucent has been trying to sell both plants, hoping to turn them into contract suppliers.

A potential buyer, Flextronics, is said to be offering between $400 million and $900 million for the pair.

In an unrelated move, Lucent is said to be offering early retirement buyouts to several thousand mid-level managers in the next few days, which would be on top of about 16,000 jobs Lucent is shedding.
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