By on February 15, 2008

i_assembly3.jpgThe Detroit automakers aren't the only ones feeling the cost crunch in Canada. The London Free Press reports our neighbor to the north is also the most expensive place Toyota assembles vehicles– in spite of a distinct lack of Canadian Auto Workers' union members. And yet, in spite of higher operating costs, ToMoCo may be looking to expand their RAV-4-producing Woodstock assembly plant even before it opens next fall. Toyota's playing down the rumored expansion. They're declaring that the plant must first open and perform before they'll consider adding more capacity. When asked why they'd consider spending more on a plant that already costs so much to operate, Toyota Canada's president Yoichi Tomihara replied "Toyota's philosophy is to make the investment in the long term, not the short term." Toyota executives also said they don't let current market conditions sway their strategy; economic conditions can change. Besides, they added, they like making vehicles in Canada. I'm thinking ToMoCo likes it anywhere where they don't have to deal with a labor union.

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17 Comments on “Toyota Hearts Canada...”


  • avatar

    Umm ya know their factories in Japan are unionized too and the last time I checked they haven’t shut down the Fremont UAW plant either.

  • avatar
    Juniper

    Yes, people forget the Japanese and the Germans have very strong unions. But they do manage to work together better. Also, if the non union auto workers in Canada are getting good wages and benefits, they can thank the UAW. Toyota and others will pay just enough to keep the unions out. Ironic isn’t it?

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    The Japanese unions are nothing like our domestic ones.

    I don’t find anything ironic about Toyota paying enough to keep the unions out. In fact, if the domestics did that, they would be better off (the workers too).

  • avatar
    lprocter1982

    I think in Canada, we don’t have the same love affair with unions as the Americans do. Indeed, at any place I’ve worked, the general consensus was that the unions are there just to deduct money off our paychecks. Most of what the unions ‘guarantee’ are covered by federal or provincial laws anyway, so what’s the point in having a union? About the only good it does, as far as my coworkers and myself are concerned is prevent our employers from firing us. But, since we do our job really well, that’s not going to happen anyway.

    Also, at the grocery store where I work, we recently signed a new CBA, after the old expired 2 years ago. The union actually proposed that if the proposal was voted down, they’d have a strike vote. Well, we’d get $100 a week to be on strike. I get $300 a week to work. I told my supervisor that if the union goes on strike, I’m not going with them – I can’t afford to strike. My sentiments were echoed by my coworkers as well. So what’s the point of a strike, when the employees can’t afford to engage in it? What good is the union when they have no striking power?

    I say send the unions back to the States… we don’t want ’em.

  • avatar
    Wulv

    @ lprocter1982

    By population percentage , Canada is way more unionized that USA. I believe the US sits at 12-15% of the job force unionized, where Canada is well over 30%.

  • avatar
    jolo

    The local Chrsler union hall has signs all over their parking lots that non-union made vehicles will be towed at owner’s expense. It does not say non UAW union made, just non union. So if someone with a Toyota Corolla (made by NUMMI) or any of the German or Lexus models were to park there, even though they were union made, they would still be towed. I asked some of the hourly folks I know and they said that they would not care what their sign said, if it ain’t uaw made, they don’t want it there. I can’t wait until they are taken to court by someone fighting this.

  • avatar

    Jolo, Its private property, I thought private country clubs can still legally bar non whites from membership so I don’t see how someone can sue them over alowing or not allowing certain cars.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    I suppose you could sue them over the meaning of the sign. Assuming you had business and were otherwise welcome at the union hall. However, you would be wiser to just pay the tow unless you can afford body guards to protect you when the union goons find out where you live from the court papers.

  • avatar
    cRaCk hEaD aLLeY

    Cars made in Canada are built and delivered to you courtesy of an assembly line fueled by a publicly funded health care system.
    About 70% of their workforce health care costs are funded by tax payers. How can Toyota afford not to love building cars there?

  • avatar
    lprocter1982

    @ Wulv:

    Population percentage, I think, is a misleading statistic in regards to Canada versus the US, since the US has 10 times as many people (300 million versus 30 million.) Assuming your percentages are right (I’m not saying they aren’t,) about 45 million employees are unionized is the US, more than the entire population of Canada, while only 9 million or so are unionized in Canada. And I think a good portion of those unionized workers don’t really want or need to be; they are the ones working security, in grocery stores, and other low paying jobs where the union is simply deducting money from their paychecks while providing little or no return.

    Indeed, looking at our new CBA at my grocery store, the starting hourly wage of new employees is LESS THAN minimum wage. Of course, they have to be paid minimum, which is guaranteed by law. What good is a union that can’t even negotiate a starting wage at minimum? By the way, having the less than minimum starting wage also means that as employees get more and more seniority, their wages go up according to the raise scale. BUT, in order to make more than minimum wage, you’d need to be working for over 3 years at the store. Until then, all you make is minimum. Unless of course, the store owner volunteers to give a worker a raise, as he did for me. So, the ‘evil’ owner treats his workers better than the union does. So what’s the point of the union?

  • avatar
    rtx

    The Toyota Woodstock plant was built to be “twinned”.
    The Cambridge Toyota plant sits on 400 acres as opposed to Woodstock’s 1000 acres. The Cambridge plant is almost fully developed and during the last mini expansion soil conditions were not found to be conducive to further expansion.(water table too high and not enough solid footing without huge amounts of extraction and refill)
    Woodstock will at some point be the major employer due to the extra acreage. There will probably be some form of RAV based Lexus (Rexus??) after the RAV has been ramped up to full production.
    You’re right though….Toyota really does enjoy dealing with a non-union workforce and as long as your health and job performance is ok then not having a union is really a non-issue.
    They do their best to rehabilitate and reposition workers who have work related injuries through an extensive and thorough physiotherapy program.
    The job performance and job attitude issues are dealt with the old fashioned way.(A few warnings and then don’t let the doorknob hit you on the way out)
    If terminated employees have an issue with the reason for their firing they are free to hire a lawyer and fight Toyota’s money. The Toyota Human Resources Department will gladly hear your story and supply tissues and hand holding services while you go through this trauma but very few have been successful in getting compensation from Toyota and fewer still in getting their jobs back.
    For better or for worse thats Toyota in a nutshell. Expect to work very hard for the money you make. Expect to endure a 2+ year temporary status at less then full wage/benefits until you are offered “permanent” employment.
    Expect to support the additional overtime required and expect to give up a good portion of your Saturdays to do so.
    Expect to earn $80G + + depending on what you do there.
    Thats really the bottom line….is a union required? For most the answer is NO.

  • avatar

    I think all the negative comments on Unions in Canada are really misplaced,relating to the Grocery trade, just wondering if the worker bothers to attend Union meetings that most unions have? Its there that policy and proposals are made by a vote of the members, I was active in the Union in the Telco field and yes its very hard to strike a Telco Company as most of its operation is Automated, and yes sometimes its needed to make justice in the work place for all, without Unions you would have no security and no protection against unfair firing! ie the Grievance procedure works for all!
    Not all Managers are clowns but there is a time and a place for both to work out differences without a Strike! Hope everyone will enjoy “family day” this weekend in Ontario.

  • avatar
    lprocter1982

    Union meetings? I’ve been working at the store for about 8 months, and they’ve had one meeting – to ratify the new CBA. Hell, the union cancelled two or three bargaining sessions in that time – the owner, and the store franchise wanted to settle, but the union couldn’t, or wouldn’t make the time to do it. And when they did settle, the union agreed to some pretty crappy deals.

    To be fair, maybe it’s not all Canadian unions, and just the Food and Commercial Workers Union. But I’d say it represents a good percentage of all Canadian unionized employees, and if it does as poor a job everywhere as they do locally, then I can see most Canadians not really seeing a use for a labour union.

    And in regards to unfair firing – the union does protect against that. But so does the Ministry of Labour. By law, you can’t be fired without just cause. And anyway, if one does his/her job right, there’d be no point to fire said person anyway.

  • avatar
    lprocter1982

    Gee, bluecon, and I thought Toyota (and Ford) built their plants in farmland in the middle of nowhere because there was room there to build them.

    Ford’s St. Thomas plant is unionized, but it’s in farmland in the middle of nowhere. So, pray tell, what does the factory location have to do with the presence, or lack thereof, of a union?

    And while Canada likely does have more unionized workers by percentage as someone (maybe you, bluecon, I don’t remember) pointed out, my point has always been it’s not because it’s our choice. No where is joining a union optional. I think given the choice, many Canadians would not join a union, because for the most part, it seems the unions protect the mediocre workers and just serve to deduct money from our paychecks.

  • avatar

    I think Unions are necessary even in todays Market place, my old Union is a very large affair representing every thing from Chemicals, Oil & Gas,Paper, Broadcasting and Communications, its a all Canadian Union too, and I feel that that is important too!
    In the case of the CAW union, it was formed after a long labour dispute that was settled by Judge Rand and after wards the Rand formula was made legal in that all people in the bargaining unit must pay Union dues but they dont have to be a member of same, lets face it, when the Union bargains a Contract everyone benefits from it.
    If in the grocery business its up to you to get the Union doing what’s right, if they dont have meetings and let the people know what’s going on then shame on them, maybe time to change Unions? again its up to the people in the Bargaining unit.
    In the case of Toyota in Cambridge, from what I hear is that everyone has to do compulsory overtime, that is not so good imho, and again being on a two year trial more or less is pretty well standard in some Companies, then its up to the people that work for such companies to try and change things and having a Union might be the way to go, its very important that any Union must be from the bottom up and not from the Top down like the Auto Unions do.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    I think Toyota pays to screen out applicants with unionizing backgrounds/tendencies.

    And while the loonie may make things expensive now, long term Ontario is a good place to be. Ontario has pretty good schools and some of the cheapest electricity on the continent.

  • avatar

    Lets not forget, if they build ’em in Canuckistan with the right % formula, they can import them to the US under NAFTA, keeping overall costs lower than if they shipped them from Japan, paid import tariffs, and paid Japanese labor prices.


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