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• AP Video: Ford announces as many as 30,000 layoffs by 2012 DEARBORN, Mich.(AP) -Ford Motor Co. plans to cut up to 30,000 jobs and shutter 14 plants in a sweeping restructuring it hopes will turn its North American auto business back into a profitable venture. Ford’s St. Louis plant will be the first plant idled, in the first quarter of this year. A plant near Atlanta will close at the end of this year and a plant in Wixom, Mich., will close in the second quarter of 2007, according to Ford Americas President Mark Fields, the architect of the plan. Other plants to be idled and eventually closed through 2008 are Batavia Transmission in Ohio and Windsor Casting in Ontario. Ford will choose later this year two more plants to be idled. The company also will reduce production to one shift at its St. Thomas assembly plant in Ontario. All of the plant closings and job cuts are scheduled to be completed by 2012. ‘These cuts are a painful last resort, and I’m deeply mindful of their impact,’ Chairman and Chief Executive Bill Ford said in announcing the cuts. ‘In the long run we will create far more stable and secure jobs. We all have to change and we all have to sacrifice, but I believe this is the path to winning.’ In addition to the facilities named Monday, analysts also have predicted assembly plants in St. Paul, Minn., and Cuatitlan, Mexico could be at risk for closure because of the products they make. Under the company’s existing contract with the United Auto Workers, workers at the idled plants will continue to get most of their pay and benefits until a new contract is negotiated next year. Ford also plans to build one plant in North America, but Fields wouldn’t say where it will be located. He would only say that the plant must be a low-cost operation. UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and Vice President Gerald Bantom expressed disappointment over the plan. ‘The impacted hourly and salaried workers find themselves facing uncertain futures because of senior management’s failure to halt Ford’s sliding market share,’ they said in a statement. ‘The announcement has further left a cloud hanging over the entire work force because of pending future announcements of additional facilities to be closed at some point in the future.’ In addition to the job cuts, Ford said it plans to achieve $6 billion in material cost savings by 2010 as part of its restructuring. It also plans to revitalize its Ford, Mercury and Lincoln brands by giving them more distinct identities. Earlier Monday, Ford reported earnings of $2 billion in 2005, down 42 percent from last year’s profit of $3.5 billion. It was the third straight year the automaker has reported a profit, but gains in Europe, Asia and elsewhere were offset by a loss of $1.6 billion in North American operations.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! For More Info AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card Ford shares rose 42 cents, or 5.3 percent, to close at $8.32 on the New York Stock Exchange. The quarter’s profits came in large part because of the sale of its Hertz Corp. rental division. Ford, like its larger U.S. counterpart General Motors Corp., is struggling with hefty losses in its North American operations and with shrinking market share, as Asian competitors sell more and more cars. Ford said the plan will restore profitability by 2008. But some analysts said the plan was short on details, leaving them uncertain if it would boost Ford profits as the company struggles with aggressive competition, higher gasoline prices, rising costs for labor and raw materials and a junk credit rating. Ford named only five of the plants it plans to close. ‘It’s a step forward in the culture of Ford. Whether it translates into increased profits remains to be seen,’ said Brian Johnson, an auto analyst with Sanford Bernstein. The cuts represent up to 25 percent of Ford’s North American work force of 122,000 people. Ford has approximately 87,000 hourly workers and 35,000 salaried workers. In addition, Ford plans to cut 12 percent of its corporate officers in the next two months. Union leaders called the planned cuts ‘extremely disappointing.’ But shares of the nation’s second-biggest auto maker rose on Monday’s news, indicating some investors were pleased with the long-awaited ‘Way Forward’ plan, as well as with a larger-than-expected $124 million overall profit in the fourth quarter.