NEARLY all managers at Oklahoma City Lucent plant accept buyout offer

Saturday, July 14th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Nearly all eligible management employees at the Lucent plant in Oklahoma City accepted the company's early retirement offer, but most will stay on until the plant is sold, officials said.

In January, Lucent announced it would eliminate 10,000 jobs and sell Midwest factory operations employing another 6,000 workers under a wide-ranging restructuring and cost-cutting program.

Last month, the company offered buyouts to more than 10,000 U.S. employees _ mostly midlevel managers but also a small number of nonunion clerical workers. They had until Tuesday to decide whether to accept the offer.

Lucent said 280 workers in Oklahoma City accepted that offer.

``The plan allowed those close to becoming pension eligible, to become eligible,'' corporate spokesman Bill Price said. ``For example, a 45-year-old with 10 years service could receive a discounted pension. And to those who were already eligible, it gave a richer pension benefit.''

The Oklahoma City and Columbus, Ohio, plants are up for sale. Celestica Inc., a Canadian telecommunications and computer equipment manufacturer, is expected to be the successful bidder on both factories.

The deal has been pending for more than a year, but is expected to be completed by Sept. 30.

Al Rodgers, a spokesman for the local factory, said the some management employees' final day at the plant would be Friday, while for others it will be the effective date of sale.

Rodgers said to account for the loss, the plant is reducing operations on its overnight shift.

The plant now has about 2,500 employees, including 325 managers and about 2,200 production and clerical workers.

At one time, Lucent was Oklahoma City's largest private-sector employee with more than 4,400 workers.

The plant produces circuit boards for digital-switching equipment, which telephone companies use to route calls.