Torrico talks tough about NUMMI

Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico is quoted extensively in this Chronicle story about a Save NUMMI rally yesterday in SF.

Here’s what Mr. Torrico said:

“It ain’t over till it’s over … We’ll take the bills and sit in Toyota’s lobby until someone talks to us,” he said. “And if we don’t hear what we want to hear, we’ll fly to Japan and sit there until someone talks to us there.”

Is this cause for optimism?

Well, there have been times when Torrico hasn’t been able to deliver on his tough talk. Take for example his comments on the budget at a town hall meeting I covered last year. Here is some of what he said:

“If they’re not going to consider tax increases, I’m not going to consider cuts,” the Newark Democrat said during a budget forum he sponsored Wednesday at the Fremont Library. “I don’t care how long the budget impasse goes for.”

There was more:

“I’m tired of Sacramento; I’m tired of not making any changes,” he said. “I will not vote for a budget that only has cuts.”

It wasn’t Torrico’s fault that California has the strange two-thirds rule for passing budgets that lets the minority party rule the roost. But when it comes to talking tough about Hard Times, he and everybody else take a backseat to the master, The American Dream Dusty Rhodes.



I’m perplexed by some of the comments critical of the city. 

What could they have done to keep NUMMI: Fix some potholes on South Grimmer? Schedule garbage pickup every day? Let Building Department employees freelance for the plant when they’re short on work?

It just doesn’t seem like there was a lot they could offer. Am I missing something?


Springtime for developers and environmental firms, winter for Kirby’s and Marriott

I didn’t get a chance today to call some of the folks who own land near the future Warm Springs BART Station, such as Jack Balch, David Beretta and the Sobratos. They are likely worth more today than they were yesterday.

NUMMI had successfully fought to make sure the land they owned near the future station wasn’t zoned for anything more lucrative than office space, and office market stunk even before the economy stunk.

Now, one figures, they could build whatever they want: high density housing, shopping centers, etc.

The closure is bad news for Kirby’s. I didn’t know that the Irvington bar opened at 6 a.m. to accommodate one shift of NUMMI workers. I also didn’t know that Red Wing Shoes, which has a Fremont location, supplied footwear for the plant. Thanks to the Fremont Chamber for that tidbit.


Save NUMMI rally

UPDATE UPDAE: No rally. Don’t go

UPDATE: The rally might be at noon. I’ll confirm later.

According to Twitter, there will be a Save NUMMI Rally from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Saturday at the union hall, 45201 Fremont Blvd.


Interesting interview with NUMMI worker

This is worth reading.

A few tidbits:
NUMMI’s union contract has been extended to Aug. 13.
Auto production has picked up; no more furloughs.
This guy (a NUMMI worker) thinks that if Toyota keeps the plant open, it won’t keep the union.
Last Pontiac will be made next week.
Not sure about GM owning land. NUMMI says joint venture owns everything jointly.

Click here for interview.


Newsflash: Wasserman and Harrison disagree

I’m in full speculation mode this week asking folks what should happen in south Fremont IFToyota stops making cars and trucks there. It’s a touchy subject. No one wants to be seen as rooting for NUMMI’s demise, because nobody is rooting for NUMMI’s demise.

One city official asked not to be quoted and another would only talk about what the city was trying to do to keep NUMMI. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Sue Chan wouldn’t even take the bait. Your newest council person doesn’t do hypothetical questions.

Luckily for me, Bob Wasserman, Bill Harrison and Bob Wieckowski do, although they want to stress that they very much want NUMMI to stay.

But if it doesn’t … ?

Wieckowski and Harrison both said the area should remain manufacturing.

Not Wasserman. He said he’d be open to a new car manufacturer taking over the plant, but if that didn’t happen, he envisioned down the road, “a very massive development” with a mix of housing, retail and office buildings. Continue Reading


Not much news from NUMMI headquarters

I talked to a UAW coordinator, a NUMMI employee and an official for it’s largest Fremont-based supplier. They didn’t say much.

Mark Johnson, a UAW, Local 2244 coordinator said he’s been instructed to “give a no comment.” He added that NUMMI and the union have contract talks scheduled for Sunday, but wouldn’t say it they were on how to wind down the operation or reach a new deal. “Everything is up in the air right now,” he said.

As for the Wingard Quality Supply official, he said I’d have to talk to NUMMI.



The NUMMI Statement

Hi again.

A lot has been written about the the statement Toyota released Friday. The Tribune called it a “blockbuster.” Decide for yourselves. It’s below:

We are carefully evaluating our options with respect to the NUMMI joint venture as a result of General Motors’ actions.
NUMMI has been a model of US-Japan industry collaboration as long as 25 years, but GM's decision to abandon NUMMI and discontinue its production of the Pontiac Vibe have prompted a set of difficult and complex decisions for Toyota.

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. 

And this was NUMMI’s response:

We know that TMC has a very tough business decision to make.  Neither NUMMI`s labor costs nor business conditions are competitive, so we are working hard to improve them and make NUMMI more attractive to Toyota.


NUMMI and Fremont

Click here for a new story on NUMMI. It says the future of the plant probably hinges on negotiations with the union, whose contract expires next month. Toyota will want concessions.

If NUMMI goes under, what does that mean to Fremont. It would be a big hit for the regional economy, but not a knockout blow to Fremont.

The city gets nearly $2.2 million a year from NUMMI, but $1.9 million of that is property taxes, which wouldn’t go away, although it could be reduced if the plant closes. The city also gets about $280,000 a year in sales tax, business license tax and assorted permits. That’s about the cost of two rookie cops. For reference, Fremont has a $130 million general fund budget.

How about jobs? I’m told between eight and 12 percent of the roughly 5,000 NUMMI employees live in Fremont. So that’s about 1,000 new jobless city residents. Also the vast majority of the NUMMI’s suppliers are from out of town.


GM ending NUMMI partnership with Toyota

UPDATE UPDATE: I went down to NUMMI and stood at the edge of the property with several tv guys trying to flag down workers for a comment. Had I known this morning that I’d be trying to get blue collar guys to talk to me, I probably wouldn’t have worn my bell bottom pants.

Not much to report. One worker said GM rapes people and that he had confidence in Toyota. Another said he was scared, and a third just put is faith in G-d.  Most just sped past us in their cars. I was surprised how many NUMMI employees wear “NUMMI” related t-shirts to work. I only wear my Argus shirt to the gym or painting parties.


UPDATE: A more thorough story from the LA Times.

From Associated Press.

GM ending Nummi joint venture with Toyota

NEW YORK (AP) — General Motors Corp. says it is ending its joint venture with Toyota at a Fremont, Calif., manufacturing plant after the two automakers failed to reach an agreement on a new product there.

New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., or Nummi, produces the Pontiac Vibe for GM and the Corolla and Tacoma for Toyota. But GM is phasing out Pontiac and had been in discussions with Toyota about the plant’s future.

GM says it was unable to reach an agreement with Toyota on a new product for the plant and says its stake in Nummi will become part of the “Old GM” that will be sold off during its bankruptcy process.

A bankruptcy court is scheduled to rule Tuesday on GM’s proposed sale to a new company majority-owned by the U.S. government.