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Some Ford Employees May Not Recieve Profit-Sharing Checks on Time

March 2, 1988

DETROIT (AP) _ Ford Motor Co. will comply with a court order and withhold profit-sharing checks scheduled to go to about 1,850 workers who are behind on child support payments, the automaker said Wednesday.

″We’re not a stakeholder in this. It’s strictly between the individuals involved and Wayne County,″ said Ford spokesman Mike Moran.

The order was issued by Circuit Judge Richard Kaufman on Tuesday, four days after Friend of the Court of Wayne County filed suit to obtain profit-sharing money in an effort to improve child support collection.

Friend of the Court, which is involved with domestic relations cases and is affiliated with Circuit Court, ″has an obligation to insure compliance with child support orders,″ said its director, Gerhard F. Ritsema.

The checks are to be distributed Tuesday and are expected to average a record $3,700. More than 160,000 Ford employees received the previous record profit-sharing checks of $2,100 in 1986.

According to the court order, Friend of the Court will have eight weeks to settle the 1,850 cases.

Ritsema said eight weeks would be sufficient for Wayne County’s 35 Circuit Court judges to decide how much of each profit-sharing check will be given to the agency, adding that he hoped some people would opt to settle without a hearing.

About $155 million in child support was collected in 1987, but 80 percent of the 225,000 parents supposedly paying child support are in arrears, Ritsema said. He said the agency’s action against Ford employees could bring in as much as $4 million.

Kaufman’s action disappointed many Ford workers. Four employees told the judge that child support already is being deducted from their pay. They said the agency should increase the deduction from their regular paychecks instead of going after their profit-sharing checks.

″The profit-sharing check is what we’ve realized after going eight years without a raise and turning Ford Motor Company around,″ said Robert Morris Jr., a 10-year Ford employee.

Friend of the Court is considering increasing the amount deducted from regular paychecks, Ritsema said. But he said any such action would be in addition to pursuing profit-sharing money.

Friend of the Court in Washtenaw County has also moved to obtain profit- sharing money from Ford workers who are behind on child support payments, Moran said.

He added that Ford has rejected all 150 names on a list submitted by the southeastern Michigan county agency, saying that not enough data was supplied for the automaker to verify the agency’s claims.

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