NUMMI Workers Picket Toyota at California Auto Show – Why?
According to local San Jose, California news station KCBS, NUMMI workers picketed Toyota at the San Jose Auto Show last week. The report says that the picketing NUMMI workers are also planning to deliver a petition to keep their factory open beyond it’s scheduled closure date. While no one can blame these workers for trying to save their jobs, why are they picketing Toyota?
If you follow the auto industry, you know what Toyota decided to close NUMMI (the last major California auto plant) nearly 6 months ago. Toyota’s decision to abandon NUMMI followed GM’s announcement that NUMMI wasn’t going to be a part of the “new” GM. In other words, Toyota pulled out of NUMMI after GM pulled out.
Once Toyota Toyota officially determined they couldn’t continue to produce cars in California , they informed NUMMI’s 4,500 (or so) workers. This happened about 4 months ago. NUMMI’s workers (who are members of the UAW) were told that NUMMI would build it’s last vehicle in March, 2010. Understandably, this was disappointing and depressing news, and many workers were justifiably upset. Yet it seemed that most NUMMI workers understood this was just as much about GM’s bankruptcy as it was anything.
Now, it seems that sentiments have changed. Some of NUMMI’s workers want to lay the blame for their plant’s closure at Toyota’s feet. While it’s certainly true that Toyota deserves some share of the blame for the plant’s closure, it’s also logical to blame GM, California’s excessive regulations and anti-business climate, and the economy as a whole.
While it’s difficult to appreciate the situation that NUMMI workers are facing, it’s not as if Toyota hasn’t tried to soften the blow:
- Toyota has given NUMMI workers at least 6 months notice. Hundreds of thousands of US workers have been fired over the last 18 months, and it’s doubtful that any of them were given 6 months notice to prepare. NUMMI’s workers have it better than most in that respect.
- NUMMI workers have been earning overtime since the closure has been announced. Toyota raised production at NUMMI to maximum just before they announced their decision to close the plant. This was done because of recovering sales. What’s more…
- Toyota is going to continue to run NUMMI at max capacity until the plant closes. When NUMMI closes, Toyota is going to need a few months to re-start production at other plants (NUMMI’s Tacoma production has been moved to San Antonio alongside the Tundra, and NUMMI’s Corollas are going to Canada). In order to make sure they don’t run out of Tacomas or Corollas during the transition time, Toyota is going to run NUMMI at full speed in order to build up a stockpile.
In other words, some NUMMI workers are picketing the employer that has given them 6 months notice and lots of overtime pay. While no one should expect people to be happy when their plant closes, picketing is absurd. Toyota was forced to close NUMMI because they partnered with GM
Filed Under: Auto News