By on February 22, 2010

UAW members protest a Modesto, CA Toyota dealer, as part of the union’s wider effort to punish Toyota for its decision to shut down the NUMMI factory in nearby Fremont [via the Modesto Bee]. “We are not telling people not to buy Toyota products,” explains one worker. “We’re telling people that Toyota needs to be a responsible corporation and keep jobs in California.” And though there couldn’t be a better time to blame Toyota for just about anything, the NUMMI plant was closed because GM ditched the joint venture during its bankruptcy and government bailout. Toyota, like GM, was faced with overproduction in the US market, and because GM had pulled out of NUMMI, the plant was an obvious candidate for closure. So really, these protesters would have some sinister version of GM’s logo on their sign if they were really interested in fairly assigning blame for the NUMMI shutdown. However, their UAW pension fund owns 17.5 percent of GM, so simply blaming Toyota is a lot more convenient. Especially since Toyota is already attracting so much well-deserved (if wholly-unrelated) negative media attention.

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20 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: The UAW Is Looking Out For You Edition...”

  • avatar

    I love hypocrites…..they make me laugh =)

  • avatar

    Are these idiots aware of NUMMI’s history? Don’t they know it was originally just a GM plant and was shuttered by GM for several years until TOyota and GM struck a deal to build cars there and if it wasn’t for Toyota those jobs never would have come back.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      Also, by letting GM put the GEO name on the Corolla, it gave GM a false look of quality.  Even more after it became the Chevy Prizm.  The “buy ‘murricun” idiots who actually thought they were buying a real Chevrolet, and there are plenty of them who are that ignorant, didn’t even deserve to have a car that good to drive up and down their dirt roads to get to their trailers.  I actually knew one of those people.  “No, it’s not a Toyota, it’s a Chevrolet”, she proudly told me.  And when I showed her where it was manufactured (on the placard on the driver’s door jamb), she denied it because none of them, including her, knew or knows what NUMMI was. 
      And then there’s the Epsilon confusion when I tried to tell someone else they were driving a Saab….once again, “It’s a Chevrolet!”  No, it’s not.  That’s why the 2005 Malibu was liked even by Consumer Reports!

  • avatar
    Facebook User

    It’s safe to stop assuming UAW workers know their asses from holes in the ground.

  • avatar

    We’re telling people that Toyota needs to be a responsible corporation and keep jobs in California.

    Which would require them to pull jobs out of San Antonio or Cambridge. Jobs are a zero-sum game. I know that San Antonio is a very new plant and that Cambridge is one of the highest-quality, higher-productivity plants, so it makes some sense to close NUMMI rather than run the other two facilities at suboptimal levels.

    I’m sure that, if Toyota had the demand for a quarter-million Corolla/Matrixes or Tacomas they’d keep NUMMI open. They don’t.

    I felt the same way when GM moved truck production out of Oshawa as these guys in NUMMI do (except that I think Oshawa has a better case than NUMMI, what with it’s being the highest-quality plant in North America). The problem is, feelings don’t help meet operating costs.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      Not true, Toyota could also reduce production in Japan as it imports nearly half the vehicles it sells in the US. But, the last thing Toyota will do is to shut down a factory in the home country because of its own loyalties.

    • 0 avatar

      One, the capacity from NUMMI is going to San Antonio and Cambridge. Last I checked, those aren’t in Japan.

      Two, since none of NUMMI’s products are made in Japan, they’d have to move something made there, here. All of what Toyota sells in quantity in North America is already made in North America. You’d be asking Toyota to make significant changes to NUMMI (one of it’s least flexible plants) and it’s offshore plant to allow it to build product for which there is no demand on this continent.

      It would be nice if NUMMI could pick up the Yaris, Prius or some of the Lexuses, but that’s just not happening. The sales in North America just aren’t there to support it, not when the bulk of the products would be sold for export and JIT would suffer.

      This has nothing to do with nationalism and everything to do with cost.

    • 0 avatar

      John Homer you are absolutely right.

  • avatar

    Those guys must live in Modesto and are too broke to drive anywhere.

    Between Freemont and Modesto there’s 3 Toy dealers if memory serves. All of which are way closer to Fremont. Not to mention that San Jose probably has 3 or more, and Fremont is basically a San Jose ‘burb.

    It’s around 50 miles from Fremont to Modesto. Perhaps the SJ press wouldn’t bother to cover them.

  • avatar

    “We’re telling people that Toyota needs to be a responsible corporation and keep jobs in California.”

    Keeping jobs in California – or anywhere for that matter – is not a corporate responsibility. Toyota has a corporate responsibility to provide maximum return for its shareholders, whether it sells cars, toilet paper, or home mortgages. Toyota does not exist as a jobs program.

    If Toyota could provide ROI to its investors by operating only with robots, it would do so, and the shareholders would be happy.

  • avatar

    The protesters’ banner would make sense if it said “California is killing California jobs.”

  • avatar

    I think Gary Condit killed the jobs and buried them somewhere just outside of town, but I guess we’ll never know for sure.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Toyota managed the Nummi plant and Toyota made the decision to shut it down. GM had a minimal presence @ Nummi for a long time. It is true that GM left it’s portion of Nummi ownership with the derelict part of the company in bankruptcy, but it was still Toyota which made the ultimate decision to shut it down. Toyota has taken over 80% of the production output of Nummi for a long time. The Vibe (GM’s only Nummi made product) was hardly a big runner.

    • 0 avatar

      Towards the end, GM was only using a whisker over 10% of the plant’s capacity. Over 200,000 Corollas/Matrices were built during that timeframe to GM’s paltry 22,000 Vibes. There’s no reason Toyota couldn’t have kept that plant open, but they saw an opportunity and went for it.

  • avatar

    You’d think that these guys would have better things to do if they’re out of work, like, I don’t know, look for a new job. What’s really smart is that they’re working on pissing off the local Toyota dealership in the above picture, when Toyota dealers could wind up being their best chance for employment here in the near future. It’s hard to feel bad for people losing their jobs when they act like that. It’s not entirely Toyota’s fault that NUMMI was shut down, why do they get all the blame? If anything, Toyota should get props for being the last man standing.

  • avatar

    You know that skull badge would probably sell well as an accessory

  • avatar

    GM’s presence at NUMMI was minimal. GM didn’t sell a lot of Vibes. Toyota made 3 vehicles there, Corolla, Tacoma, and Matrix, all of which sold better than the Vibe. Not that I agree with the picketing and boycotting, but Toyota did decide to shutdown NUMMI. Toyota has over production and it would have come from somewhere else if it wasn’t NUMMI. GM’s pullout didn’t really matter. Production could have been taken from other plants to replace “volume” from the Vibe.

  • avatar

    Well if vehicle sales don’t warrent keeping open what is most probably one of the most expensive plants to operate (Being California Is Business Challenged-E.P.A., A.Q.M.D.-LIBERALS) it makes sense to close it. What I do find ironic is the non-stop bashing of domestic automakers and their workers about anything and the continued unconditional support for Toyota. Look at this article on this website –…/another…toyota-toyota…saving/index.html If you don’t start to at least get a little irritated with Toyota you either work for them or own quite a bit of stock!

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      Maybe if domestic automakers would make better cars, we would stop bashing them.  It’s up to them to make themselves unbashable.  That won’t happen.   And definitely hasn’t so far, if the 2010 Cobalt I’m renting right now (my 2006 Civic was hit to the tune of $3300 in my own driveway by a roofer who was leaving the job…) is any indication.  Runs well, but the interior is pitiful and the car feels like a bucket compared to the Civic.  It also has a major chassis rattle in the left front.  Kinda scary.  No dice, EVER, GM.

  • avatar

    I remember once writing about Toyota and NUMMI something like “look for Toyota to get a lot more reasonable (about providing parachutes for displaced UAW members) when da Chicago Boyz come calling.”

    That’s what’s going on here. It’s a shakedown. Toyota can put a featherbed under former NUMMI workers, or get the crap kicked out of it in Washington. It’s like, ya knows, a free choice.

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