DETROIT -- When Ford Motor Co. handed out bonuses for 2006 this month, the checks that high-level managers got were a lot more than the $300 to $800 most workers throughout the company received.
About 6,000 high-level managers at Ford operations around the world were eligible to receive bonuses that ranged from several thousand dollars to $15,000 or more, employees with knowledge of the bonuses told the Detroit Free Press.
This month, Ford said it would pay what it called "modest bonuses" to all of its hourly and salaried workers below the rank of manager despite having posted a record $12.7 billion loss last year and having missed important market share goals.
In the United States and Canada, hourly workers were to receive about $500, and most salaried workers would get $300 to $800 under the plan, Ford said.
But higher-level managers got much more than that when checks were handed out March 15. For senior managers, bonuses reached $15,000 or more, Ford insiders who received the bonuses or know the amounts said.
Ford's salaried managers are categorized by what the automaker calls "leadership levels" that start at a designation called LL6.
Bonuses for managers in leadership level LL5 and above were based on performance, and about 6,000 managers worldwide qualified, Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans said. Individual performance and company performance were considered.
Evans declined to say how much those managers were eligible to receive or confirm the amounts disclosed to the Free Press. But some workers at the LL5 rank got about $5,500, while some ranked LL4 and above received about $15,000, the Ford insiders said.
Ford said the bonuses were being given to U.S. and Canadian salaried and hourly workers because the company made significant quality and cost-cutting improvements under its Way Forward restructuring plan.
The Way Forward effort aims to close 16 factories and eliminate 44,000 hourly and salaried jobs in a bid to restore profits to Ford's ailing North American division by 2009.
"Because we did not accomplish all of our objectives last year, the awards will be modest," Chief Executive Officer Alan R. Mulally said in an e-mail to employees March 8. "We want to recognize and reward your accomplishments, because you made vital contributions to our future."
Ford had about 128,000 hourly and salaried workers in North America as of Dec. 31. If each received $500, the bonus program would cost the company $64 million.
If all those workers received just $300, the bonus program would cost Ford more than $38 million.