NUMMI gives workers a bonus for staying

December 18, 2009 6:36:08 PM PST
Workers are losing their jobs at the New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc., or NUMMI, auto plant in Fremont. They heard the company's proposal for what amounts to a severance package. NUMMI says it's not severance, but actually a bonus workers will get for staying on the job until the plant closes.

For months, workers at NUMMI have been in the dark about what they will receive when the plant closes at the end of March. Negotiations between the company and the union have been very secretive.

Friday the company went around the union and told workers it will be a cash payment on a sliding scale somewhere between $13,000 to $43,000.

As workers filed into the plant for Friday's 2 p.m. meeting, the lead negotiator for the United Auto Workers union, Javier Contreras, laid out the details of the company's offer.

"From anywhere from 13,000 up to 40,000, again it all depends on years of service that they have in that plant. No medical what so ever, no medical no dental," said Contreras.

NUMMI officials are calling it a retention package because they say the workers are being paid to stay on the job until the plant closes at the end of March.

"We want to maintain them as long as possible so that we can continue to produce vehicles at the plant with high quality," said NUMMI spokesman Lance Tomasu.

As workers left Friday's meeting, one told ABC7 he was satisfied.

"I am, yeah, considering they don't have to give us anything. The only reason they're giving us anything, is because of the retention package. They want us to stay and finish building their cars," says Steve Harris, a NUMMI employee.

Most said the NUMMI offer wasn't enough. Some said that they were not getting what they deserve and wanted medical benefits, which are a big deal to many of the employees.

"There's no jobs in California so we know that, so everyday it's getting closer and we're getting nervous and stressing out and I've got a family and so I'm worried about my family," said Anthony Oliveri, who has worked at the plant for 18 years.

It was 25-years-ago on Friday NUMMI unveiled its first car in Fremont. A joint venture between Toyota and General Motors, but when General Motors declared bankruptcy, he American auto maker dropped out of the partnership and Toyota announced it could not go it alone.

The head of the local UAW, Sergio Santos, said workers are planning a boycott of Toyota and demonstrations at dealerships.

"Toyota has 80 percent of the market share in California and it doesn't make any sense for them to come in here and pull the plug on all these hard working people that made them number one," said Santos.

NUMMI'S spokesman told ABC7 demonstrations and a boycott would be hurting part of the NUMMI family.

"Toyota has stepped up to the plate and given us seven months of production, which will help in the transition when our team members lose their positions," said Tomasu. When asked if he thought it would it make any difference to Toyota if there were demonstrators or a boycott, Tomasu said, "That's hard to say, you'll have to ask Toyota about that."

ABC7 asked Toyota that question the last time a company representative was in town after hearing about the threatened boycott and he said it would be unfortunate, but it would not change the economic factors that have forced Toyota to close the NUMMI plant.

The plant will close on the last day of March.


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