Schwarzenegger sends representative to Japan in effort to keep NUMMI plant open in Fremont

Other California leaders also working to save Toyota manufacturing jobs

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, saying he remains committed to working with Toyota, federal officials and stakeholders to keep the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) plant in Fremont open, is sending a representative to Japan to meet with Toyota President Akio Toyoda.

At the same time, California's Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and 15 members of California's congressional delegation have offered to work with Toyota Motors Co. to save the plant.

NUMMI is a 25-year-old joint venture between General Motors and Toyota, but GM announced in June that it will withdraw from the partnership. GM had previously announced that it would stop making the Pontiac Vibe at NUMMI in August.

According to a statement issued by Feinstein's office, Toyota, which is still making Toyota Corolla cars and Toyota Tacoma trucks at the Fremont facility, is reportedly also considering withdrawing from the joint venture but Toyota officials have said no final decision has been made and the process will take some time.

Toyota officials didn't respond to numerous requests for comment Friday, nor did leaders of United Auto Workers Local 2244, which represents employees at the plant. The union's agreement with NUMMI expires on Aug. 8.

In a terse statement, NUMMI spokesman Lance Tomasu said, "Toyota has taken a direction, but has not made a final decision regarding NUMMI."

Tomasu forwarded a statement by Toyota Motor North America spokeswoman Mira Sleilati saying that Toyota is studying whether "it could be economically feasible to contract with NUMMI without GM" and Toyota "must also seriously consider taking necessary steps to dissolve the joint venture."

David Crane, the governor's special advisor for jobs and economic growth, said in a statement, "Our office will continue to respect Toyota's wishes to keep discussions private as we work together to determine the best path for ensuring NUMMI's continued operations in Fremont."

Jeb Bing, Bay City News

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