Buyout Offer: Thousands Of Ford Workers Ponder Eight Choices

By Anne Marshall

(LOUISVILLE) -- Thousands of Louisville's Ford workers are faced with a tough decision. From October 16th through November 27th, Ford is offering buyout packages to its hourly workers as part of its restructuring efforts to make its North American Division profitable. As WAVE 3's Anne Marshall reports, the one-time only offer is getting a lot of interest.

"I think quite a few people will buy out this time around," says 42-year Ford veteran Ampelio Isetti.

In fact, the first day of the work week was the last day for some at the Kentucky Truck Plant. According to worker John Reece, some workers who previously signed up for a buyout, were given the option to leave today.

Says Reece: "They were probably at home by eight this morning."

Hourly workers in the U.S. have until November 27th to decide on eight different buyout options they can choose from.

"They said they wanted 75 out by November 1st," Reece says.

After four decades at the truck plant, a smiling Isetti was counting down the days, noting that his last day will be November 1st. "Yeah, that's it. Then I'll be out of here."

With his plan, Isetti gets $35,000 and retirement benefits. For someone with his tenure, it was an easy choice; however, others feel none of the offers are right for them.

Reece, who has worked with Ford for 13 years, says at this point he needs Ford more than the company needs him.

"Because I've already got over 10 years, I'm vested in my pension and health benefits. I've got too much seniority to walk away and give it up but not enough so that it's feasible to take retirement -- too many years before I start drawing my pension."

For now, as Ford continues to downsize, thousands are sizing up which, if any, of the eight options best fits. "There's lots of options," Reece says. "Lots of things to consider."

Some of the options include a $140,000 offer to workers with 30 years experience.

For younger workers there are educational programs that offer money for tuition.

Union and Ford officials from Michigan are expected in Louisville soon to help explain the various plans to workers.

Again, the deadline for workers to decide on a buyout offer is November 27th.

Online Reporter: Anne Marshall

Online Producer: Michael Dever