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Tesla Motors officially takes over NUMMI auto plant

NUMMI auto plant in Fremont
October 1, 2010 7:12:41 PM PDT
Tesla Motors, the Palo Alto headquartered electric car maker, officially takes over the former NUMMI plant in Fremont.

It's a quiet changeover with no ceremonies. Tesla turned down requests for an interview about its plans and about future jobs.

Across the street, meantime, hundreds of former NUMMI workers are at various stages of re-employment training at a "one stop" facility funded primarily by Alameda County.

Pamela turner put in 17 years at NUMMI.

"I know Tesla is a good company. I've been following them online, and I'm really hoping that a lot of us, we get hired. I know right now that they're starting off small. Hopefully over the years, they'll do good and a lot of us will be able to come back," she said.

While some hold out hope that they might get jobs with Tesla, others expect the jobs to pay much less than the $25 to $30 an hour they were earning at NUMMI.

Those who have checked out the Tesla website for job postings said all they could find were engineering openings, which the assembly line workers are not qualified to take.

"I've been going online, and I've been getting a lot of email back telling me that, 'don't call us, we'll call you,'" former NUMMI employee Allen Bernardos said.

Bernados was confident he would find work on his own and did not take advantage of the job training services. He was at the job center today to schedule a skills assessment test, the first step in the process.

Butch Johnson, co-director of the NUMMI Re-employment Center, said the former auto plant workers have accessed services 10,000 times since it opened early this year.

That would be equivalent to each of the 4,700 laid-off workers going twice for various job training services. However, Johnson said that in the current economy, there is no guarantee that every worker will find a job.

Ron Brandon says he took some time off after the plant closed at the end of April. About six weeks later, he found a job as a production supervisor at a large bakery operation.

Brandon says he was surprised how his NUMMI skills transferred well to bakery production. He realizes now, in retrospect, how well NUMMI was run and how the skills he learned there would be so valuable in his new job.

Tesla paid $42 million for the Fremont plant, which at one time was a joint venture between General Motors and Toyota.


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