According to Ford spokesman Mark Truby, "Despite a strengthening in our business, we still have a surplus in employees." Union employees to be specific. As such, Ford has just announced plans to reduce its unionized workforce by offering a buyout package to all 41,000 UAW members currently employed by the automaker.

Reuters reports that Ford workers with at least one year of experience can take a payout of $50,000 plus a new car voucher worth $25,000 or an additional cash payment of $20,000. Retirement-age workers can opt to take their pensions plus the $25,000 new vehicle voucher or the $20,000 payment. Finally, skilled-trade workers that are eligible for retirement can opt for a $40,000 payout plus their pensions.

Ford says these efforts are necessary to remain competitive with foreign rivals and fellow American automakers General Motors and Chrysler, both of which recently went through government-sponsored bankruptcy proceedings and extensive reorganization. Earlier this year, Ford's UAW workers voted down a revised contract that would have essentially granted Ford the same measures that unionized auto workers had earlier extended to Chrysler and General Motors.

Workers who accept the buyout packages would leave sometime during the month of February, 2010. Any new workers hired as replacements will start at $14 per hour under the latest UAW contract, which is half of the current average wage of UAW employees being offered the buyouts.

[Source: Reuters | Image: Bill Pugliano/Getty]