Thursday, March 18, 2010

Betrayal at NUMMI


I found this dignified statement sad and telling. If we sometimes wonder why there is so much anger and frustration in the land, consider the millions of men and women who have have experienced something like this.

Statement by Sergio Santos
President, UAW Local 2244

This statement on the closing of the Toyota NUMMI auto assembly plant will, by necessity, be my last.

On Wednesday March 17, 2010, the members of UAW Local 2244 will most likely vote to accept a severance pay package offered by Toyota. The offer mandates a gag order that I believe violates our First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution, and our rights to Freedom of Association under the Labor Rights Conventions of the United Nations’ International Labor Organization (ILO). Nonetheless, under conditions set by Toyota, after the agreement is ratified, I will no longer be able to comment on the plant closing or its impact on our members.

While we are pleased that Toyota has increased its severance pay offer by millions of dollars, we are far from pleased that Toyota is going ahead and closing the plant where many of us have worked hard and faithfully giving Toyota the best years of our lives. Our skill has helped NUMMI repeatedly win JD Powers awards for quality, and has made Toyota the number-one automobile company in California and America. We are the ones who helped Toyota adapt their production methods to our American culture. We brought them success and now we have been betrayed. ...

With all of the recent bad publicity Toyota has earned, and because of the strong support we have received from newspaper editorial boards and from communities and individuals, Toyota sweetened its severance offer and will provide our members with a slightly better cushion to help us survive the next few months. After that we are on our own.

The tens of thousands who work at the auto parts suppliers and other businesses that support the Toyota NUMMI facility will fare far worse. Toyota has refused to consider any severance benefits for these people, some of whom have worked many years for subcontractors inside of our facility, alongside of us.

Toyota and its surrogate, NUMMI, will issue its own releases boasting of its generosity and philanthropy, its dedication to its workforce and the communities where it operates. But as the tens of thousands of people who made Toyota number one run out of money and unemployment benefits, as we lose our homes , our health benefits, and ultimately our health, the true toll of Toyota’s decision to abandon vehicle production in California will become clear to everyone. ...

Toyota has betrayed us and now they have gagged us. We will be silent in the future, but we deserve better. We are accepting the terms of Toyota’s settlement out of necessity, as a means of securing some limited funds for our families....

In closing, let me be clear. Toyota is closing the Toyota NUMMI auto assembly plant, not NUMMI, not GM. Toyota is closing our plant and Toyota could still choose to keep it open.
The NUMMI facility in Fremont, California was heralded as the future of the auto industry in 1984 when it re-opened (after closing as a GM plant) as a joint venture between Toyota and GM. The U.S. automaker would learn quality production from Japanese management that produced U.S.-built content at the factory.

The entire Northern California area will suffer along with the immediately affected workers.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

What about GM? They left the joint venture and left us NOTHING. At least Toyota left us something. But oh yeah, that's right, the UAW owns about 17% of GM.....

janinsanfran said...

Anon.: Could be. But clearly the bigfoot in this story (at least now) is Toyota.

Mother Muckraker said...

GM cars accounted for 15% of production at most. The Pontiac Vibe that was produced alongside the Corolla is nothing more than a Toyota Matrix rebadged as a Pontiac.

We are now producing 100% Toyota vehicles and working overtime to meet demand at a level of defects lower than other Toyota plants.

Talk of GM's financial responsibility is a red herring by "company activists" trying to improve Toyota's reputation. Toyota can just keep NUMMI open if they wanted to. The recent NUMMI State Blue Ribbon Commission proves that all the reasons for closing NUMMI is false.

http://treasurer.ca.gov/nummi/report.pdf

The only reason they are closing it is to do away with their only union plant so they can lower wages in N. America.

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