NUMMI workers plan rally today to try to save jobs

Want Toyotoa to reverse decision to close Fremont plant that employs 4,500

Workers and community members will hold a rally today to call for Toyota Motor Corp. to reverse its decision to close the New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. vehicle assembly plant in Fremont.

The rally will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. outside Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office at 1 Post St. in San Francisco. Feinstein is in Boston today for the funeral of Sen. Edward (Ted) Kennedy.

Sergio Santos, the president of United Auto Workers Local 2244, which represents workers at the NUMMI plant, said UAW members and their families, union and community supporters and local, state and federal elected officials will attend the rally.

Santos said the NUMMI facility employs about 4,500 people and has created tens of thousands of other jobs throughout California.

NUMMI is a 25-year-old joint venture between General Motors and Toyota, but GM announced in June that it would withdraw from the partnership.

Toyota announced on Thursday that it will end its production contract with NUMMI on March 31 and will shift production of Toyota Corolla Cars and Toyota Tacoma trucks to facilities that are wholly owned by the company.

Today's rally follows disappointment expressed by state and local leaders Thursday at Toyota Motors Corp.'s announcement that it won't order any vehicles from the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant in Fremont after next March.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement Thursday: "Today is a sad day in the history of Fremont as California joins the ranks of states adversely affected by the bankruptcy of General Motors and the worldwide collapse in demand for automobiles."

"We continue work already in progress with the U.S. Departments of Labor and Commerce, local government officials, Toyota, GM and the Japanese government to ensure appropriate employee severance, proper environmental remediation and assistance in transforming the site to alternative uses," he added.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein agreed.

"I'm profoundly disappointed," she said.

Feinstein said Toyota's announcement likely means that the NUMMI plant will be closed, which would cause the loss of 4,600 direct jobs at the plant and 35,000 indirect jobs across California.

NUMMI is a 25-year-old joint venture between General Motors and Toyota, but GM announced in June that it would withdraw from the partnership.

Toyota, which is still making Toyota Corolla Cars and Toyota Tacoma trucks at the Fremont facility, said in July that it also was considering withdrawing from the joint venture but it didn't announce its decision until Thursday.

Feinstein said she, Schwarzenegger and many other state and local officials put together a proposal, including tax breaks, in an effort to help Toyota keep NUMMI operational.

But she said, "As the days went on, the officials at Toyota grew more remote and less transparent. My calls were not returned, which gave me the distinct idea and view that they were going to withdraw from the venture

- which was confirmed with today's (Thursday's) news."

"I would hope that this facility, which is very large, can be put in some new form of manufacturing and I would hope that Toyota would be helpful in that endeavor," she added.

NUMMI officials said it has received notice that Toyota won't order vehicles from the plant after March.

In a statement, NUMMI president and chief executive Kunihiko "Kent" Ogura said:

"NUMMI has enjoyed a very positive and mutually beneficial relationship with our suppliers, customers and community for the past 25 years, and we can all take great pride in the substantial achievements of this pioneering venture. We are deeply saddened that we will no longer have vehicle orders after March 2010."

"We particularly regret the impact that this will have on our valued NUMMI team members. The contract between the United Auto Workers and NUMMI emphasizes the philosophy of mutual trust and respect, and we are committed to making every effort to ensure the best possible transition for NUMMI team members," he added.

Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman said he is "extremely disappointed" at Toyota's decision.

Wasserman said, "Toyota has told us their decision to close the plant was purely a business decision necessitated by General Motors exiting the NUMMI partnership, a substantial decline in automobile sales in the U.S. and the excess production capacity that exists at Toyota auto plants."

State Sen. Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro), whose district includes Pleasanton, said, "I was very disappointed to hear that Toyota has made this announcement. I, along with other state lawmakers and the governor's office, have been working very hard to create a package of incentives to keep the NUMMI plant open."

The only elected official to offer a more upbeat assessment was Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, who said in a phone interview that he's still "optimistic" that the auto plant will continue to operate under Toyota, another automaker or by Toyota in partnership with another company.

Garamendi said his understanding is that Toyota is merely terminating its partnership with GM because GM is bankrupt and he believes Toyota is "posturing" with bankruptcy court officials about the auto plant's assets.

Garamendi said he had expected Toyota to make this announcement ever since GM said it would withdraw from the partnership.

He said, "A 25-year marriage is breaking up but Toyota has a new lover and it's called California and we want them to stay."

Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News, Jeb Bing

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Like this comment
Posted by SteveP
a resident of Parkside
on Aug 28, 2009 at 9:38 am

SteveP is a registered user.

Makes you wonder if the outcome of this story would have been different if the labor force at Nummi was non-union. Part of the reason Toyota has remains a profitable company is their use of non-union labor (unlike GM).

Like this comment
Posted by Dr. Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 28, 2009 at 9:44 am

If you want to teach Toyota a lesson, spread the word, DON'T BUY TOYOTA!



know it all!

Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 28, 2009 at 2:35 pm

I agree with SteveP, I suspect that a major factor in Toyota's decision is the fact that NUMMI was unionized. Unions need to realize that their unreasonable wage and benefit demands ultimately will result in loss of jobs. As this country is discovering, there is a wealth of workers world wide that can do the same job, sometimes with better quality, than union folks. It's sad to see happen, because many other small companies are also impacted by this. Perhaps the unions will learn from this (perhaps not!)

Like this comment
Posted by Out of Work
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2009 at 2:37 pm

NUMMI workers should really be thankful that Toyota stayed in it this long. With only one profitable year on the books to date, a state that is increasingly more business-unfriendly with each passing day, and a union leadership that is unwilling to make the concessions needed to ensure its members would continue to have stable employment, can anyone really blame them from pulling out???

Like this comment
Posted by Fred
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Aug 29, 2009 at 9:42 am

They should just close the plant and use the land to build condos.

Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 29, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

The Japanese won't be convinced by a rally. Their culture is really different.

Like this comment
Posted by Now Listen
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Aug 29, 2009 at 8:45 pm

We don't need Numi...

We need more low cost housing on that prime land.

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 29, 2009 at 8:53 pm

grreat idea now listen, lets put low income housing on top of land which has been contaminated since 1960

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 30, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Now now now...wannabee...I say let the empty lot be made into exercise fields to be used by the public to maintaing their health: tracks, walking course, short distance running, skipping lanes and olympic style walking courses!

FIRST, REMOVE ALL TOXIC WASTE!!! The job would create lots of jobs, first choice would go to the newly unemployed workers.

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