Ford Offers Free College to Laid Off Workers

January 18, 2006 ( - Ford Motor Company is now offering laid-off workers at its Edison, New Jersey truck plant a deal to pay for the employee's college education and to get half of their usual salary plus full medical coverage.

Under its new program, Ford will pay as much as $15,000 a year for tuition to United Auto Workers (UAW) members who go to school full time to earn a degree, the Wall Street Journal reported. The half-salary benefit amounts to about $27,000 a year.

According to the news report, participating workers have to achieve and keep at least a “C” average and to take a full class load. They must have worked for the carmaker for at least a year.

“It could be a typical four-year institution or community college or getting a commercial-vehicle license,” company spokeswoman Marcey Evans told the Journal. “Anything that leads to a license, degree or something like that.”

Under the plan, the workers still get pension benefits they accumulated before the layoff but wouldn’t be eligible for retiree health care unless they retired from the auto maker.

Workers in Ford’s JOBS Bank program must report to the plant for 40 hours a week, where they may or may not be given work. Some work in the community on volunteer programs or charitable efforts. Ford has about 82,000 UAW members on its payroll.

Ford will soon also offer this “Educational Opportunity Program” to laid-off workers at its Lorain, Ohio, assembly plant, which closed in December, according to the news report.