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.