* 1,700 Ford workers takes early retirement offer
* 920 skilled-trades workers take payouts of $100,000
* Ford employs 41,000 UAW-represented workers
(Rewrites; Adds background on contract talks, wage rates,
By Deepa Seetharaman
DETROIT, March 16 About 1,700 Ford Motor
Co's workers accepted early retirement buyouts that were
offered last fall as part of the No. 2 U.S. automaker's labor
contract with the United Auto Workers union, a Ford spokeswoman
said on Friday.
About 920 of those who accepted the buyouts were higher-paid
skilled-trades workers, Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans said on
Friday. The majority of Ford workers taking the payouts will
leave the company by June 1.
In all, workers taking the buyout represent 4 percent of the
41,000 UAW workers employed by Ford. The buyouts allow Ford to
hire entry-level workers who begin at $15.78 an hour, about half
the wage of a veteran UAW worker.
Under Ford's UAW contract, eligible production workers who
take an early retirement package will get a $50,000 bonus, while
skilled-trades workers will receive a $100,000 payout.
In October, Ford said it expected up to 1,000 skilled-trades
workers would take the buyout offer.
Ford also has 250 workers on indefinite layoff, who can also
be rehired to fill the vacant spots.
Ford projects lower-paid workers will make up about 8
percent of its factory workforce by 2015, up from fewer than 100
workers when negotiations with the UAW began last summer.
Ford's payout was far richer than the early retirement
packages offered by its larger rival General Motors Co.
In the last contract talks, GM offered a $10,000 bonus for
eligible workers who retire by 2013 and $65,000 to
skilled-trades employees who voluntarily quit by March 31.
(Reporting By Deepa Seetharaman; Editing by Richard Chang,