Auto workers union calls for picketing at local Toyota dealers to keep Fremont plant open

NUMMI closure scheduled for April 1 adds to carmaker's woes as it also deals with massive vehicle recalls

Several hundred workers as well as union leaders and state and local elected officials held a rally Friday to begin a campaign to pressure Toyota to cancel its plans to close the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. auto plant on April 1.

Sergio Santos, the president of United Auto Workers Local 2244, which represents 4,700 employees at the plant, said, "We are launching the largest consumer information campaign in the history of the U.S." by picketing at Toyota dealerships to urge people to boycott the carmaker unless it keeps the plant open.

Santos said, "We want Toyota to reverse its decision to close our facility."

Joining Santos at the rally, which was held at the Local 2244 office, across the street from the NUMMI plant, Art Pulaski, the chief officer of the California Labor Federation, said, "It's a bad thing for Toyota to try to close this plant now."

Speaking by video from Washington, D.C., where he is snowed in, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Toyota's plan to shutter the facility is "one of the largest and most ill-advised shutdowns" in memory. This is no time to be destroying jobs."

Bob King, the national vice president for the United Auto Workers, said the decision to close the plant "is a wrong-headed and bad management decision."

King said that decision along with the recent recalls of several models of Toyota cars because of various safety defects show that "the Toyota Corporation has lost its way."

It's been a trying time for auto giant Toyota and specifically, local dealerships that are busy replacing parts in vehicles as part of a massive recall announced over the past few weeks and the suspension of sales on affected models.

At Dublin Toyota, general manager Lance Tenwolde said the dealership is doing everything it can to assist customers in replacing accelerator pedals, which were the subject of the recall, and said to possibly stick, leading to runaway acceleration. Dublin Toyota and other dealers are also facing a global recall of the Prius — the hybrid electric car which has become the leader of the green motoring revolution.

Fremont Economic Development Director Lori Taylor estimated in a recent report that closing the plant not only will affect the 4,700 people who work there but also could affect another 20,000 people who work at suppliers around the state who rely on NUMMI for business.

Hundreds of these workers--perhaps several thousand--live in Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley or commute from homes east of the Altamont Pass.

Among the elected officials at the rally, in addition to California Treasurer Bill Lockyer, were state Assemblyman Alberto Torrico (D-Fremont), whose 20th Assembly District includes part of Pleasanton; Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), Assemblyman Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) and four members of the Fremont City Council.

Janet Pelletier, Bay City News contributed to this report.

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Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Feb 13, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Picketing local Toyota dealerships to keep the NUMMI plant open has got to be one of the most idiotic tactics organized labor has come up with in quite some time. Not only does it unfairly punish the dealership who has no say in the matter, it ignores the many reasons why Toyota is making the fiscally responsible decision:

- GM dropped out, lowering the utilitization significantly

- UAW contract guarantees $28/hour at NUMMI vs $24/hour in other plants

- Higher electric rates in California vs everywhere else

- Parts have to be shipped from the mid-west to California resulting in higher costs

- NUMMI is an older, less efficient plant

Is there *anyone* (besides pandering politicians) who actually believe it makes sense for *any* company to do manufacturing in California any longer? If so, I've got a bunch of carbon credits I'd like to sell you.

Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Downtown
on Feb 13, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Picket??why...Your Union owns General Motors..they want you to close and so do all of the politicians in the Bay Area. If NUMMI closes then the possibility grows that a new plant, or an enlarged plant somewhere else in the US, will blossom. YOU CAN'T PRODUCE ANYTHING IN CALIFORNIA...IT COSTS TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH!!! Oh I wish I was in the land of cotton and we may have lost in 1865 but WE ARE WINNING NOW.

Like this comment
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 14, 2010 at 9:27 am

The union targets Toyota, but does nothing when GM pulled out? I want to go buy one just to spite them. So stupid.

Like this comment
Posted by David Duke
a resident of Southeast Pleasanton
on Feb 14, 2010 at 9:30 am

Joe wrote: "Oh I wish I was in the land of cotton and we may have lost in 1865 but WE ARE WINNING NOW."

By "we," you mean "white people," right?

Like this comment
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2010 at 5:55 am

Get rid of unions! By now we have seen how they have destroyed not only the auto industry but public education as well. NO MORE UNIONS

Like this comment
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2010 at 7:24 am

I couldn't agree more! Just think of what we could accomplish if we banished unions: Teacher won't give your child an A? Go nuts until she's fired. Soon all of our students will have 4.0 GPAs and we'll have the best school district in the USA!

Like this comment
Posted by No fan of unions
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Bill states a very accurate, spot on analysis of this situation. It's virtually impossible to manufacture in the state of California due to some of the highest costs in the country, including, but not limited to Workmen's Compensation insurance costs, high corporate tax rates, oppressive environmental regulations, and more.

You'd pretty much have to be an idiot to try to manufacture anything in California, unless you're Solyndra in Fremont getting a half-billion dollar guaranteed Federal government loan--"Hey, if we fail, who cares, we (the company execs) get our fat paychecks, and ultimately the taxpayers will get stuck with the bill."

Also, to the smart aleck posting as "David Duke," I think what "Joe" meant was that Southern states are the ones getting the lion's share of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. anymore, because their labor rates are lower, costs of living are lower, and their corporate tax rates are lower. Most companies that are still doing manufacturing in the U.S. are choosing Southern states due to those primary factors.

Also agree with Pleasanton Parent--it truly is laughable that the politicians and unions decide to picket NUMMI now, now that Toyota is pulling out, but not shortly after GM pulled out?

Hey "David Duke," see any racism THERE? Hmmmm.

Want to blame someone for NUMMI closing? Blame the politicians in Sacramento who have created the miserable business conditions for manufacturing in this state. They're the real idiots.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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