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March 9, 2010

JAPAN: UAW NUMMI appeal at Toyota HQ fails

An appeal by a top official of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union for Toyota to reverse its decision to close the NUMMI plant in California has apparently fallen on deaf ears.

An appeal by a top official of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union for Toyota to reverse its decision to close the NUMMI plant in California has apparently fallen on deaf ears.

United Auto Workers vice president Bob King made the appeal in a meeting with Toyota executive vice president Atsushi Niimi at Toyota’s head office near Nagoya in Japan.

King told Niimi the closure of New United Motor Manufacturing in Fremont would severely undermine employment in the local economy, according to Toyota officials cited by Kyodo News.

But an official said, ”We do not intend to alter the plan to halt production as of 1 Apri.”

The UAW plea for a meeting between King and Toyota President Akio Toyoda was not granted, they added.

Last August, Toyota said it would to close down NUMMI, founded in 1984 as a 50-50 joint venture with General Motors. The Californian venture was established at the height of Japan-US auto trade friction which had led to the building of ‘transplants’ by Toyota, Nissan and Honda in US states such as Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.

NUMMI, with about 4,700 workers, has been a major employer in California, and California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, presiding over a state seen as expensive in which to do business, and with a high unemployment rate, has also asked Toyota not to shut the factory.

Toyota has said that after GM’s decision to pull out of the venture – after it axed the Pontiac brand whose Corolla-based Vibe was built there – it will not be able to run the factory profitably on its own.

Toyota has been manufacturing the Tacoma pickup truck and the Corolla sedan at the factory in recent years. The plant once made a Corolla-based model for GM’s since axed Geo economy car brand called the Prizm.

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