By on December 29, 2009

At least the bretheren might be able to drive 'yotas to work now.

First, they sold the most amount of cars in the world, then, they started cost cutting and now, Toyota are taking another big step towards becoming GM. The Charleston Daily Mail reports that the managers of Toyota’s manufacturing plant in Buffalo, West Virginia have allowed workers to distribute union literature during breaks at the plant. There’d been grumblings about unionisation for some time. Last month, some Toyota employees, (with the backing of the UAW, naturally), filed a grievance with the National Labour Relations Board’s regional office in Cincinnati. They wanted to distribute union material but were stopped by Toyota managers. Jeff Moore, a Toyota vice president at the West Virginia plant, reversed that policy.

“We want to reiterate that federal law gives you the right to form, join or assist a union; choose representation to bargain with us on your behalf; act together with other employees for your benefit and protection; and choose not to engage in any of these protected activities.” a notice from Moore said.

After the release of this note, the employees were very happy and were vocal about it. Mike Lemaster, a Toyota worker for nearly three years, said, “Toyota now allows you to talk about the union and distribute literature in the group houses. They also decided to let you talk to people out on the line, as long as it does not distract you from work. Before, any union activity was totally illegal in their eyes.”.

Tammy Hamby, a Toyota worker for 11 years, said, “We are thrilled we are now allowed to discuss union organizing with our co-workers. We do not want to disrespect anyone who does not want to talk about it. But we want to get information out there about what is going on.”.

The UAW also had a few choice words to say. Julia Daugherty, a UAW assistant organising director in Detroit, said, “We are very pleased with Toyota’s decision not to interfere with workers’ rights to communicate, recognising they have the right to distribute literature in non-work areas at non-work times. We filed the (NLRB) charge to help them. It looks like Toyota recognised they were wrong.”.

Mr Lemaster further added, ” I am glad the union supported many of our team members. Toyota is a good place to work. We have good pay, vacations and benefits packages.” Enjoy them while you can, Mr Lemaster. I have a funny feeling that the West Virginia plant may come “under review” by Toyota HQ quite soon.

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36 Comments on “Toyota Plant Allows UAW Organiser Access...”

  • avatar

    Well, I guess those Toyota employees aren’t happy enough with their jobs, so they’re going to chase Toyota off with the UAW. Good job, a-holes.

  • avatar

    Of what use is a parking lot in which people are not allowed?

  • avatar

    Ron Gettelfinger needs to increase his union membership, with GM and Chrysler plants closing left and right.

  • avatar

    They can talk about it all day.  You’d have to be a pure bred fool to join the UAW these days; you get all the reduced pay and benefits of today, with the pleasure of helping fund some other guys retirement fund from the 70s.  What a deal!

  • avatar

    Colossally stupid.  

    Toyota employee Lemaster: “I am glad the union supported many of our team members. Toyota is a good place to work. We have good pay, vacations and benefits packages.”  Now, let’s screw it up.

    Mr. Lemaster, please check with the Big 3 (hahahahaha).  How’s that working out for them?  And you want to be part of that?

     Note that this is in WV which has a big union mentality (coal miners).  I expect that it will be like a ponzi scheme (social security, Madoff, pyramid parties) that things will be fine for a while, but as the article says, this plant will probably come under review.

    • 0 avatar

      I think the union complainers are getting all the press and attention. For all the pro-union sympathies in WV, most Toyota workers there know the union is toxic. They will, if necessary, vote accordingly.

      I like Lemaster’s other quote: “Before, any union activity was totally illegal in their eyes.”
      Nice hyperbole. As if Toyota and the Sheriff were going to jail you for pimping the UAW at work…

      Dear Mr Lemaster:
      Put up a website during your off hours instead of cancering up a perfectly good engine plant on Toyota’s dime.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Toyota’s Japanese plants are all unionized. Hyundai’s Korean plants are all unionized. Volkswagen is growing very well, and many of its plants are unionized.

    • 0 avatar

      Unions’ legal status and attitudes in Korea, Japan, and Germany are vastly different than the USA. That’s why transplant factories are non-union.

    • 0 avatar

      John is right.  And at least in some of these countries the demands and rights of the unions are much greater than in the US.  In Germany, for example, a certain number of board seats must be reserved for union leaders/members.  Something far more radical than in the US.  Yet VW is kicking GMs butt.  So much for the “unions destroy car companies” BS.

  • avatar

    The one and only reason Toyota pays comparable (to UAW) wages is so they won’t be organized.

    Or did you forget THIS MEMO:

    Yeah, Toyota wanting to bust down worker wages (in some areas) to as little as $8/hour to bring them to “parity” with other manufacturing in the areas where their plants are located.

    They backed off from that scheme pretty quickly once details became public.

    TTAC covered it, only I suck at searching for past articles on here, and don’t have that one bookmarked.

    Before all the union bashing gets out of control, I want you to think about this: 
    “While unions can produce “lazy” workers, be corrupt, intimidating, greedy, and mismanaged, it’s all a product of WHO you have running the union.  The only thing worse (more vile, stupid, and brutal) than having a union is not having one.” -Me.

    I am a Union member BTW, just not the UAW.

    • 0 avatar

      Lots of conjecture and speculation being substituted for fact in that report.

      Cutting labor costs is not the same as cutting wages and benefits. It could mean getting more work out of the same number of employees through automation or other productivity improvements.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    I imagine Toyota has already decided what they will do, if….

    These guys didn’t get to be the biggest car company in the world by being stupid.  Watch for a volume rationalization AWAY from this plant BEFORE there can be any kind of union vote.  Toyota can claim “2009 depressed sales and 2010’s anticipated slow sales recovery regrettably forced us to re-rationalize our manufacturing plan to achieve maximum stakeholder value.”  There.  I wrote the press release for them.

  • avatar

    Here we go again. Japanese autoworkers at Toyota in Japan have some of the best union representation in the world but the minute unionization of US plants come to the front, all the haters come out.
    I predict that these plants won’t become unionized until the younger folks see what happens to the older ones as they retire.

  • avatar

    Detroit is only 300 miles from Toyota’s plant in Buffalo, WV. Apparently that’s close enough to catch UAW Disease. And once inside the plant, the union will be in the saddle.  Toyota should move farther south if they want to keep control of their company. The UAW is still nostalgic about seizing and occupying the Flint plants.
    “We do not want to disrespect anyone who does not want to talk about it.” And if you insist on not talking? Well, it’d be a shame if a baseball bat smashed your windshield.
    Union fans like to say the UAW wins good (i.e., lavish) retirement benefits. The truth is that UAW brass were complicit in devising pension plans that were Ponzi schemes, sure to collapse after the Big Three lost oligopoly power.

    • 0 avatar
      Mark MacInnis

      Precisely.  This is why Toyota and Honda will NEVER EVER build a plant in Michigan ( I said plant, not tech center.  I am well aware of the existence of  Toyota’s Ann Arbor facility….) despite the inane nattering of Michigan’s Governess Granholm.

  • avatar

    You Know…The very definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result…

  • avatar

    Tammy Hamby, a Toyota worker for 11 years, said, “We are thrilled we are now allowed to discuss union organizing with our co-workers. We do not want to disrespect anyone who does not want to talk about it. But we want to get information out there about what is going on.”

    Tammy, clearly you’ve drunk the Kool-Aid but I have a few questions.

    1.  Why are you thrilled to discuss union organizing with your co-workers?

    2.  Do you plan on disrespecting those who want to talk about it but describe it as so totally self-destructive?

    3.  Exactly what information do only you possess about “what is going on out there” that you feel you must get out?

    4.  Have you traveled to Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois and seen for yourself the blocks and blocks and blocks of abandoned stores, industrial buildings, and homes resulting from business’s response to anti-management, anti-business unions?

    5.  Do you view yourself as the “Norma Rae” of the auto industry? If so, please share with your followers that within five years of the south’s cotton factories being unionized, all factories were closed and everyone was thrown out of work.

    You go, girl!

  • avatar

    I love the non-working union hating crowd on this website. This will hit a nerve with you guys since you are rightious legends in your own minds. First you wont believe it but the U.A.W. doesn’t design vehicles good looking or ugly. The U.A.W. doesn’t  make any decisions to build  huge low MPG vehicles. The U.A.W. didn’t make huge bad deals with SAAB, VOLVO, OPEL,ETC…. The U.A.W. never did and never will market(or lack there-of) vehicles produced here in America. The U.A.W. has never and will never set production levels(especially set way too low on hot sellers) on Vehicles produced in America. The U.A.W. never made the decisions to run the same amost exact looking models  for 5-10 years.  The U.A.W. has never and will never allow foreign countries to manipulate their currencies keeping their money artificially low.  The U.A.W. was against every so-called free trade agreement that allows anything to kill our industries  while foreign countries  “Protect” their interests at our expense! The U.A.W. has never been any part of building huge auto infrastructures in China and Russia and then selling controlling interest in these HUGE financial debacles. Give away your best technologies and sell out ! Beautiful! There are a million points to make and here are several others. Why is it acceptable our government encourages outsoucing of our industrial base, replaces high paying jobs with part-time Walmart with no benefits and at the same time allows higher education costs to explode and become out of reach for most Americans so we can’t train for ANY higher tech jobs left? Well let’s throw a few more facts into the fray! This same government, both parties, have left our borders wide open to further flood our country with illegals to further kill wages and benefits and explode our state and federal deficets! This same problem has also flooded our streets with gangs, drugs, graffitti, murder and mayhem. Another point, the non union “Transplants” wouldn’t have the wage and benefit structures they have without the U.A.W. They pay well to keep the union out! Once our unions are gone without a shortage of labor, wages and benefits WILL FALL! With the flood of illegals who’ll become citizens through amnesty and their huge population increases this is inevitable. One more fact many of you union hating non-working legends out there look at your wage and the particular job you perform, what will an illegal soon to be legal accept in pay and benefits to do your job? I’ll bet many of you “Legends” work in a tax based revenue job  instead of the private sector! The unions are trying to preserve good pay and benefits so we don’t have to go to socialized medicine and ultimately a socialized country.

    • 0 avatar
      Mark MacInnis


      So, you don’t see a cause-and-effect relationship between higher labor cost in a vehicle, and management having to have a longer life cycle for the vehicle platform design to offset those higher costs?

      Just asking.

      It might behoove you to study some cost accounting and basic economics to expand your worldview beyond the propoganda with which the union appears to, regrettably, have thoroughly indoctrinated you.   Just like our Liberal government, it appears they are counting on your ignorance of the real world.

      I hope you have a nice day.

    • 0 avatar

      Very well said, Asiseeit.
      Also, the UAW does not do any hiring. They end up stuck having to represent the crappy workers that the companies hired. The UAW does not hire the unqualified supervisors who don’t have the cahones to write people up. The UAW does not buy the cheapest part from suppliers that are attached to the engines, transmissions and bodies of vehicles. The UAW does not concoct a bonus system for management based on units produced rather than vehicles sold. The UAW does not put together a Corporate Quality Team and Policy.
      I’ve seen countless times UAW members rejecting a part or parts only to have management increase the tolerances so the parts will pass. That’s how they get their bonuses remember. I’ve seen management raid the coffers of one successful auto company to fix the shortcomings of their own (Daimler).  I read about GM wasting 5 billion dollars and getting nothing in return (FIAT). I saw Jacque Nassar waste billions on Jaguar and others for what … nothing.
      Plenty of blame to go around but the billions and billions wasted lays squarely on bad management.
      How is Ford doing now? In quality and sales. How could that be? Aren’t they the same UAW workers on the lines????

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz


    • 0 avatar

      I always love this stance from pro union, or pro management individuals. The one always blames the other without taking responsibility for what they screwed up themselves.
      Sure the management made too many stupid decisions for me to list, but to say the union wasn’t part of the collapse of the automakers is delusional. It wasn’t even the pay and benefits, but the work rules hat made no sense. Like a forklift mechanic I knew who “worked” 75 hours a week. On his first day he performed 2 basic services constituting a tune-up and oil change in a couple of hours. His union rep came to him and asked what the hell he was doing. One was a week of work. I could go on with examples, but I will leave it at that.

  • avatar

    No, but the UAW sure built the junk they sold to it’s so called brothers and sisters out here in consumer land.

    Funny how that loyalty and “patriotism” and solidarity only works one way. Makes me sorry I ever fed your bloated sense of entitlement by never buying a foreign branded car…. [but not any longer: bailout paid off any obligation to UAW hacks, thank you. Hyundai you’re looking real good right now].

    • 0 avatar

      My grandfather worked in the GM Powertrain plant in Defiance, OH (god rest his soul) but given the money that I, my unborn children, and grandchildren have given to GM and Chrysler, its time to sink or swim on their own.  There are products made by “American” companies that I would buy, but that is independent of the fact that those products are UAW made.  I support companies that make good products at a price I can afford.  The Impala is high on my list but made by UAW labor in CANADA, Subaru is high on my list but many are made in Indiana, there are Honda Accords that I would consider but (shocker) are made in Ohio.

  • avatar

    Geeber, You should read the actual memo if you can find it, they quoted a specific target wage they wanted to cut down to.
    And I guess Toyota DID implement TIERED wages, in April 2008 (last paragraph or two):

  • avatar

    Your Highness Mark MacInnis your superior intelligence takes my breath away! Let me ask you several questions. Could G.M. have built large numbers of vehicles in Mexico, Korea, China, and  Japan in their assembly plants that pay $1.27  an hour with no benefits? —-Yes there is a cause and effect situation in our industries with labor costs. The RIGHT VEHICLES that Americans want to buy could have been made in one or all of the foreign plants I mentioned, RIGHT? There’s another cause and effect situation we have in our government and that is if you destroy the working man’s/women’s chance at moving up the class scale by destroying jobs and making it impossible to afford higher education(so we can be as wise as you) you’ll have an effect and that is socialism! You can’t have it both ways! I know you certainly think you’re worth the money you make at whatever you do but let me tell you there are many people out there ready to do your job maybe better than you for a lot LESS MONEY!! and if our federal government doesn’t wise up(BOTH PARTIES) you will be eating your arrogance. With illegals becoming citizens and voting liberal, the lower/middle classes out number you and your brilliance. One citzen-one vote–RIGHT? One more point if you’re a domestic auto management employee you rode the high pay coat tails of the union also since management was paid a percentage MORE than labor.

    • 0 avatar

      ASISEEIT, actually I agree with most of the points you’ve made. Such as, the main reason for the decline of the old Big 3 is gawd-awful management. Apparently they’ve lacked engineering talent, too. The union can’t be blamed for that–or for pressing for every dime they could get.  All those decades of oligopolistic pricing power insured prosperity for all even if management was inept, products were crappy and UAW pay and benefits were way above other industries. And I too fear the effects of virtually unrestrained immigration.
      On the other hand, after the oligopoly was gone the UAW was still an immovable obstacle to most changes that would have helped domestics compete with foreign companies. Only government intervention kept GM and Chrysler from Chapter 7. I fear that if the UAW succeeds in organizing Toyota’s labor force (or even a key plant) the results will eventually resemble Detroit’s pathologies.

    • 0 avatar

      What you’ve said is quite true, but it’s not the whole story.

      Unions helped the downfall of the former Big-3 by asking for more than the companies could afford (and still remain competitive).

      And unions refused to allow their members to be flexibly employed once in a factory.

      Honestly speaking, the unions need to be more flexible in their demands.  If GM, Ford, Chrysler can’t afford to pay what you demand, then demand positions on their board and in their senior management.  That way, the unions *CAN* influence what sort of cars are designed, *CAN* help determine how many to build, and *CAN* vote to not move all production to Mexico or China.

      And to all the union haters that think this would be a travesty… considering how badly the current management of automakers have been, they really couldn’t be all that much worse.

  • avatar

    Good for Toyota. Union busting and job offshoring has been a major contributor to the economic decline of our nation.

  • avatar

    For all the kvetching back and forth on pro-union anti-union, here a simple, real-world example.  I bought a 1996 Ford T-Bird (70%+ American content built with UAW labor in Ohio).  165,000 almost trouble free miles (save for a dealer recall) and never stranded me, still ran strong when I traded it in on a truck.  I bought a 2001 Chrysler Cirrus (65% Japanese 35% American made in Normal, IL with UAW labor).  It was a piece a junk that starting having problems at 38,000 miles and required me to get rid of it at several expensive repairs at 90,000.  I bought a 2003 Pontiac Bonneville that was 80%+ American built with UAW labor in Michigan.  After 6,000 miles (this was new off the lot), had five major repairs (2 fuel injectors, body seal, transmission cable, heater blower motor) and took a loss trading it back to the slimy GM dealer just to get rid of it.  Bought a 2006 Ford Fusion Hecho in Mexico with Mexican and Japanese parts, no problems to date.  Bought a 2002 Mitsubishi Diamante made in Australia with 2% American content.  Best sedan i’ve owned to date.  Bought a 2003 Ford Rnager made in NJ with UAW labor with 80%+ American content.  Tough  little truck that won’t die.
    Point being, people going forward will buy the car, not the brand or the ‘pro / anti union arguments.  While I won’t personally buy a GM car (burned too many times) or a Toyota (because they’re ugly and boring), everything else is fair game.  I’m equally considering a Korean made Hyundai Genesis and Canadian union made Dodge Challenger right now. The best bang for you truck buck right now is either a Nissan made in Mississippi or a Dodge made in Mexico.   Your best small sedan choice now is a Honda Civic engineered in Canada and made in Ohio or a Mazda 3 based on a Ford of Europe design built in Japan.  Globalization has blurred all the lines.   As GM’s ill fated tagline goes, may the best car win.

  • avatar


    Many anti-union people make a bad lapse in reasoning. You cannot blame unionized labor for the bad quality cars that you purchased. Unions do not design vehicles. They build what they are told to build. (I am not saying that you have fallen prey to this flawed reasoning)

    Another point: It is important to distance oneself from conspiculous consumerism and look at the impact that ones own choices make o our country. If we continue to purchase products that increase our trade deficit with other nations one day our economy will be nonexistent. A country cannot be a superpower without a strong manufacturing base. Thats the truth. Sorry.

  • avatar

    I beg of you all…Okay, well not “all” of you:

    Please indent once in awhile.  This is not intended to sound mean-spirited, but I find it difficult to read (and to follow the thought process) with such looooonnnnggg writing having no definable paragraphs.  It’s hard to follow all those words when there appears to be no sensible separation or logical organization.

    Thanks in advance for that!

    And … no, I’m not going to jump into the pro-union/anti-union fray with you all.  It does not appear that any of you are making any headway or having even a minimal amount of fun in that argument, regardless of which side you’re on.

  • avatar

    Well if it wasn’t for the UAW the unskilled non-union line workers at Toyota, Honda, Hyundai etc. would be making about half of what they’re making now. Pretty shitty to badmouth the union but all the while collecting the wages brought to them by unionzed workers.

    I think it would be pretty funny for the UAW to collapse and have all the anti-union zealots enjoy their 50% paycuts.

  • avatar

    Regardless of whether or not we need unions, what would happen if we only had one company building vehicles in the United States?

    Yes, boys and girls, we’d have something known as a monopoly, and the Justice Department would squash it like a juicy little insect under its heel.

    So why do we allow one entity to supply and manage all vehicle-building labor?

  • avatar
    George B

    There are multiple ways to reduce labor costs, but the most straightforward one is increased automation.  Made in USA by robots
    I disagree that UAW benefit costs and work rules don’t influence car design.  The decision to provide a pension and health insurance with no copays leads to selection of inferior parts just good enough to outlast the warantee most of the time, outdated iron pushrod engines hanging out past the front wheels, and Dollar General disposable toy quality plastic interior trim.  In your face cost cutting in an effort to overcome the UAW burden and still make a profit.

  • avatar

    Toyota typically has excellent relations with it’s workers worldwide. It never hurts to let workers discover for themselves that the current labour arrangements are pretty good.
    My guess is the UAW will be able to offer precisely ZERO to these workers.
    Curious that the story is originally from Associated Press, but I can find hardly any reference to it in other media. I wonder if the “Charleston Daily” is a pro-union communist rag?

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