As Toyota Motor Corporation ponders the fate of New United Motors Manufacturing Inc. in Fremont, California in the San Francisco Bay Area, the United Auto Workers is fighting to protect is last foothold in manufacturing on the West Coast.
UAW officials have confirmed that the union has been holding talks with Toyota about NUMMI, after Toyota said the plant is no longer competitive because of its location and labor costs. With the cessation of production of the Pontiac Vibe, and General Motors Company’s announcement that it is abandoning its share of NUMMI, the future of the huge plant, already working at partial capacity, is tenuous at best. Toyota owns 50% of the plant.
The NUMMI plant, which has more than 5,400 employees, including 4,500 union members, has the capacity to build more than 420,000 cars and trucks annually.
NUMMI is also the only automotive assembly plant operating in California where the unemployment rate now hovers at more than 11%. The San Francisco congressional delegation includes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrat George Miller, the chairman of the House Committee on Labor and Education.
“We need to determine whether it can be economically feasible to contract with NUMMI without GM. Under the current business circumstances, Toyota regrettably must also consider taking necessary steps to dissolve the joint venture,” the Japanese automaker said in a statement.
Toyota has never closed a plant anywhere in the world.