End of the line
by Cassie Tomlin/ TP staff
Feb 09, 2010 | 3697 views | 14 14 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mary Elliott is one of many Tracy residents who travel over the hill to work at the NUMMI plant. The union chapter secretary said she never thought she'd lose her job. Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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Next month, at least 350 Tracy residents will lose their jobs when the state’s only auto assembly plant closes.

The New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant, in Fremont, will shut down April 1, putting its 4,700 workers out of jobs. The state expects a ripple affect could displace as many as 38,000 more workers in about 1,000 supporting businesses statewide.

At least one Tracy company that supplies the plant with auto parts will close.

Auto union heads are resolute that they can save the plant — and their jobs — in the next month, but state officials said the closure is a done deal. They are directing plant employees to places where they can be retrained and to employment offices.

In August, Toyota Motors announced it no longer needs the Corolla sedans and Tundra trucks made in Fremont.

In 1984, Toyota Motors and General Motors opened the 380-acre plant, and last year, GM pulled out of the joint venture when it filed for bankruptcy.

Dawnelle Cummings, who lives in Tracy, started working 18 years ago on the plastic assembly line at the plant.

She said it’s a repetitive job, but the pay and benefits are great, and her coworkers are like family.

“I’m going to have to say goodbye to hundreds of friends,” she said. “And it’s sad, because we’re watching them take apart the machinery now. It’s just a piece of machinery, but it’s been an old friend. I’m depressed, very depressed.”

At least 800 plant assembly workers live in San Joaquin County, including 300 in Tracy, said Mike Locke, president and CEO of San Joaquin Partnership, a Stockton nonprofit that strives to lure companies and jobs to the county.

The Fremont plant gets some parts from eight suppliers in the county, including Pacific Coast Industries on Holly Drive.

That plant will close March 31, more than 25 years after it opened to build brake lines and fuel lines for the Fremont plant.

Pacific Coast Industries last month told its 127 employees, about 50 of whom live in Tracy, that it will sink with NUMMI’s closure, general manager Jasper Bullock said.

Mark Cordero, the company’s purchasing manager, started at Pacific Coast Industries in 1989 as a Tracy High School freshman. Back then, he was young and figured auto work was better than slinging fast food, but the job turned into a lengthy career.

Cordero worked up the ranks from delivery boy to working the assembly line, until he got a degree in computer science. He now handles the company’s information technology, in addition to purchasing.

He said he hopes he can be one of 10 of 15 workers to stay on board three months past the closing for the “wind-down” period.

After that, his future is uncertain.

On Friday, the Auto Workers Union Local 2244, which represents 3,900 of the Fremont plant workers, will stage a rally at its office near the plant in Fremont.

President Sergio Santos, who has been at the plant 19 years, is optimistic Toyota will reverse its decision to close. It operates four other assembly plants in the United States, according to its Web site.

In the past couple of weeks, the Japanese company has owned up to problems with 12 of its models, including Lexus cars. The company recalled pedals and floor mats and has acknowledged faulty brakes in its 2010 Prius.

None of the recalled models came out of Fremont’s plant.

Santos said it makes no sense to shut down a quality operation, especially when Californians are buying more Toyotas than people in any other state.

Mary Elliott, the union’s financial secretary, has worked 23 years for the plant.

She said she needed only 12 more to retire completely.

“I never thought I’d lose my job,” said the Tracy resident. “It hurts me that they’re taking these jobs to Japan.”

She said the job-loss domino effect goes beyond the auto industry, and she expects local restaurants will suffer when plant workers no longer buy lunch there.

Locke said the huge job voids will be a challenge to fill — there’s no nearby industry to take in the displaced workers.

“We do have a lot of well-skilled and trained employees who could go into any type of manufacturing industry,” he said. “We hope that attracts other companies. The scope of this job loss is so significant, it will take a number of years to absorb.”

All of NUMMI’s employees qualify for federal help to get other jobs, job skill training and extra income during training.

San Joaquin County’s WorkNet also helps laid off and economically disadvantaged people find work.

Last year, 20,000 people got WorkNet help in San Joaquin County, said deputy director Mike Miller.

At the Tracy WorkNet Center, 213 W. 11th St., dislocated workers can search for new jobs, have their skills assessed and get free training in some in-demand industries, such as trucking and health care.

Cummings said that while she collects unemployment pay from the state, she might take advantage of state and federal help to enroll in school in the medical field.

“I want to use my brain instead of my brawn now, like a lot of us are going to do,” she said.

Bullock said Pacific Coast Industries has hosted seminars and given employees information about their options. He said he hopes employees can walk out of there with their heads held high.

Sandra Cerda was one of the first workers hired when the company opened in 1985 under a different name.

“After all the years I’ve put in this place, I don’t know what I’m going to do yet, but I’ll make that decision soon,” she said.

Cerda said she’s been to WorkNet already and plans to return for more information.

“I’m sad we’re going to close, but we have to move on,” she said. “We’re all in this together, and hopefully it’ll be better on the other side.”
Comments
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JimF01
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February 11, 2010
California is a lock to re-elect Democrats and Obama. The Delaware plant that GM closed is getting federal funding to reopen:

http://tpmlivewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/10/biden-announces-gm-plant-reopening-in-wilmington-delaware.php

Hmm, just a coincidence that the VP is from Delaware?
cody01
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February 11, 2010
Toyota would not help the war effort.

I worked in Oakland too. Loaded vehicles in containers to be shipped.

I purchased a Dodge Ram P/U made in Mexico.

Sold that piece of junk.

America is not Mexico. Not Japan.

My comment is concerned with this fact; Most people in The USA won't work if they don't have to.

The Golden Rule; Do unto to others, As you would have them do unto you.

Toyota did not do us like we did them. They did not buy in to GM for cheap labor. Not going to find that here unless they are here illegally. We need the migrant farm worker(Much respect). They are doing a job most Americans won't do.

That is my point. I work more for less, just like everyone else. I took a cut in pay. At least I have a job. I am grateful.

TomBenigno
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February 10, 2010
Cody:

I had two cousins who were supervisors at GM and Fisher Body in Oakland Ca, from 1936 to 1985 when the plant closed. John and Rocco Benigno were both there for those years except from 1941 to 1946, when John was in the Navy during the WW2 war. By the way, they both spent 49 years working for G.M.& Fisher Body.

We would talk about the event after the war, and they both conceded that the plant started building war machinery that was a must for America.

The need to keep the plant operating was an important part of the bay area. The war effort building trucks and even tanks at that location was important to our security and the economy for the citizens at that time, in Oakland,Ca on the 73rd Ave location.

My question is, would NUMMI help the war effort now that it is partially owned by another country? I don't think so. Lets get America going again and break our contract with the foreign interest and get back to what America is all about.
cody01
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February 10, 2010
Toyota vehicles actually made in Japan?

Hmmm!That is the way it was done before 1985(1984).

Is it fair? Is it the right thing to do?

Toyota has no choice.

My Dad worked for Insured Transports&PMT forever.

I worked for both companies.

I pulled the vehicles out of GM, then loaded them on trucks&trains.

My Dad drove truck.

I watched, Every year as GM workers went on strike. Demanding more.

Then there was changeover, re-tool the line for the new vehicles.

Between their strike and changeover, I was out of work 4 months a year.

They demanded themselves out of a job.

GM was going under back then and Toyota saved their jobs. Saved the plant.

By 1986, GM in Fremont would have closed.

Abducted
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February 10, 2010
I guess this is what the most recent Toyota commercial meant when they said they stopped production at all their factories to fix the recalls?

As in shut down American jobs? Yeah, that will fix things for Americans..?

I just can't help wonder if Toyota showed all those smiling unemployed faces (who used to work at NUMI) on Toyota's latest P.R. - commercial?
dgasper
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February 10, 2010
Ormley_Gumfudgen, no doubt you are a very clever guy, but your "cleverness" makes your post very difficult to read. You may have some good points but I'll never know as I soon gave up trying to read it!
JimF01
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February 10, 2010
As the familiar phrase says: Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Apparently Jerry diddled while NUMMI closed. Rep Jerry McNerney in the 11th Congressional District of CA is losing many of the 35,000 - 50,000 jobs affected by the NUMMI closure. What has Jerry done? He wrote a letter to the President of Toyota. More correctly, he signed a letter someone else wrote.

While Jerry McNerney and the Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and President Obama were taking over GM last year and giving it to the UAW as a prize for getting Obama elected, while they were passing stimulus which has plenty of benefits for the newly unemployed but NOTHING to help NUMMI employees KEEP their jobs and keep GM in the plant which would have kept Toyota in the plant.

Last year when the President passed the stimulus, spending $800 billion of our kids and grandkids future earnings, I wrote him a letter.

Jerry and I got the same response to our letters: nothing.
csusgirl
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February 10, 2010
Half of my family works at NUMMI including my father. I worked there for 5 summers on the assembly line while I was in college. It was an incredible collaboration until GM backed out last summer. This left Toyota with a major decision and the bottom line is that the union IS the reason why this plant is closing. This is the ONLY Toyota plant in the world with a Union, and Toyota doesn't want it. The state of California has offered over 69 million dollars in tax breaks and Toyota still said no thanks. This isn't about bashing the Union but is it really worth losing 37,000 jobs?
csusgirl
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February 10, 2010
Half of my family works at NUMMI including my father. I worked there for 5 summers on the assembly line while I went to college. It was an incredible collaboration until GM backed out last summer. This left Toyota with a major decision and the bottom line is that the union IS the reason why this plant is closing. This is the ONLY Toyota plant in the world with a Union, and Toyota doesn't want it. The state of California has offered over 69 million dollars in tax breaks and Toyota still said no thanks. This isn't about bashing the Union but is it really worth losing 37,000 jobs?
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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February 10, 2010
OK let's thank about this un fer a second.

GM ain't interested in th place, they were th previous tenants thair.

Ford ain't interested, they had a plant just down th road.

Chrysler, yeah right.

Honda? Perhaps but I don't see it happenin.

Hundi? Same thang.

Saturn? Don't know but doubt thair interested.

An while thair are others they ain't big guys an I doubt they need an assembly plant that size.

So Toyota/Lexis, who are thair an vacating, seem ta be th best bet.

Then we see UAW 2244's gonna unfurl a banner across th street from th plant on Friday that says "Toyota/Lexux, A danger to California."

Pardon me but I don't think it's gonna impress Toyota/Lexus to change thair minds an stick around here. Sorta comes off like a slap in thair face.

Granted, I feel fer th people loosin thair jobs an wish thair was somethin everyone could do about it. But askin Toyota ta stay in one corner of yer mouth an raggin on them by sayin thair products are dangerous ta California out of th other corner of yer mouth in my opinion isn't gonna convince them ta stay.

I wish all of these displaced workers th best in these tryin times an hope they all find good jobs ta support thair families soon.

I don't really follow th auto manufacturing businesses but is Toyota/Lexus goin back ta Japan or just movin thair assembly line ta a different region of th US?

Th reason I ask is because of Pacific Coast Industries.

Granted it might be higher transportation costs but they are transportin thair products ta th Fremont plant anyway so thair physical operation won't change, just higher transportation costs with longer lead times fer delivery.

Why can't they market thair product ta th other Toyota/Lexux plants that are gonna remain in operation in th US? Seems ta me that thair product line would be necessary anywhair thair putting Toyota/Lexus automobiles tagether.

Guess they have already looked inta that an it ain't viable but th article don't mention that.
vivisect6
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February 10, 2010
Think Darwin here...An organism that relies on one source for survival is at the mercy of that source.

I know a few from this company, and they spent and lived like NUMMI owed them and they had no concerns for the furure. I was part of Cal Cedar, aka duraflame, when it shut down and moved to China(because idiots unionized, primarily). I continued my education, while still employed, I blame no one for my economics-I am in charge of my life!
doors17
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February 10, 2010
I don't know anyone who works at the NUMMI plant, but my heart really goes out to all of them. I hope this thread doesn't turn into a union bashing, or find a way to blame these people. Please save that kind of talk to gang bangers or those who go through life hurting others. These are all honest, hard working people who no fault of their own are going to be dealing with a very traumatic period and need our compassion, not criticism.

25 years ago I went through the same thing when the place I worked at went out of business. The financial hardship that I dealt with was nothing compared to the emotional setbacks of depression and feeling of having no self worth is what was the most damaging to me. It's a lesson I'll never forgot, and a reminder to offer words of encouragement to those who are experiencing this today.

We'll always have the rich and poor, always have, always will, but we can't afford to lose having a powerful middle class to remain a economic power. To those of you at NUMMI I know my words are meaningless when you need action, but I really do feel for all of you and you have my support. Best wishes and good luck to all of you.
Francy22it
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February 10, 2010
I think that only with a large economic and trade agreement the U.S. and Europe, we can solve this crisis. The Chinese and other countries, which produce with rules not like us, their products can not be sold in our markets. So let's see who are the best.
No.Longer.N.tracy
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February 09, 2010
THERE ARE NO JOBS IN HEALTH CARE UNLESS YOUR A DOCTOR OR PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT. I went to school to become a Medical Assistant and have applied to over 300 jobs and not one call back...the reason no experience...So good luck with that!


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