Northwest, Ford Caught in Wave of Health Care Cuts

Both companies are losing billions in industries dogged by overcapacity, as new competitors with lower costs flex their muscles and grab market share.

Even with the reduced benefits, Northwest's health plans will be in line with what other big companies are offering, according to experts. In some areas, they will remain generous: Most companies, for example, don't offer retiree health care.

For Ford workers, including about 1,800 union employees at the Ranger pickup plant in St. Paul, the cuts they can expect will be based on what General Motors wrestled out of the United Auto Workers last week. Both Ford and DaimlerChrysler are expected to seek similar deals with the union.

General Motors landed $3 billion in annual health care concessions from the UAW in a deal expected to cost its retirees some $750 a year. GM hourly workers would contribute a portion of future pay increases to help pay for retiree benefits.

Julie Forster can be reached at or 651-228-5189.

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