NUMMI shuts down for two weeks

December 8, 2008 6:40:19 PM PST
The assembly line at Fremont's NUMMI plant will be shut down for nearly two weeks over the next month. That's because there's a back-log of cars and trucks that haven't sold, but the temporary shut-down means some tough decisions for nearly 5,000 employees at the GM-Toyota joint venture.

"Whenever the line is idle and not moving, it's a bad feeling for our members," says Sergio Santos.

Santos is the UAW president of Local 2244 representing union workers at California's only major car plant. NUMMI produces over 400,000 Pontiac Vibes, Toyota Corollas and Tacoma trucks a year.

Toyota is now shutting the plant down for nine days in December and January because sales plunged 34 percent in November.

"The reason why these days are necessary is because right now there are a lot of inventory on the truck side and the passenger side," said Santos.

These UAW members have a no layoff clause in their contract. The company has promised union members there will not be layoffs unless severe economic conditions threaten the long term financial viability of the company. The company has promised its employees cuts will start at the top if layoffs do become necessary.

"Including such measures as the reduction of the salaries of its officers and management," said Santos.

NUMMI management says it will watch the market and adjust the plant's production schedule accordingly. Officials say during the down time, "NUMMI will use the downturn as a time to focus on developing team members' skills and improving operations."

Union members will have three choices during the shutdown, take time off using their sick pay, vacation or just take the days off without pay.

GM partners with Toyota at the NUMMI Plant in Fremont. There are 4,800 jobs the UAW says will be lost if this bailout doesn't come through.

"It's going to affect local suppliers, retail business, advertising and research," says Santos.

San Jose State University's professor Lydia Ortega teaches industrial organization. She says the job market may have to take the hit because the auto industry in the U.S. is too far gone.

"It's on life support. So when do you want to pull the plug? At what price do you want to pull the plug?" says Ortega.


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