atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#1913: UAW members angry at leadership.

Bet this story wasn't on the news.

I had to do some digging to learn what the foo-raw was all about. It turns out that Toyota is going to close the NUMMI plant in California, and some 4,000 UAW workers are going to lose their jobs come April 1.

The workers are, needless to say, a bit upset.

The video comes in during the middle of the foo-raw, and the audio is less than stellar, so it's hard to determine what, exactly, sparked the riot. Clearly it was something being told to the union members by the leadership. About a minute in the speaker is saying, "Come April 1st, none of us in this room--myself included--is going to have a job...we have to make sure we have the benefits. We have to make sure we have some money and income coming in." (The audio is more intelligible at the second clip here.)

One older "gentleman" gets up and screams, "We haven't seen you in [unintelligible] SIX MONTHS! WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN?"

And then right after that, a guy yells into the microphone, "Shut the fuck up, you motherfucker!"

...definitely not the thing to yell at a crowded room which is getting increasingly angry. The situation then heads approximately south with expediency.

After things calm down a bit, the speaker tries to calm down the crowd: "We've got women and children here who are scared!"

And members of the crowd responds, "Bullshit!"

The UAW on the closing of the plant. But that press release is full of points which come from a--to be charitable--unique point of view.

Such as?

"UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles called the move 'illogical' and 'ill-timed' in today’s economy." Oh, for the union, perhaps, but not for Toyota. Look: GM's on the skids and pulled out of the factory. Toyota faces the same contracting automobile market that other automakers do, and the vehicles it builds at the NUMMI plant cost more than the ones it builds at other plants. It's actually cheaper for Toyota to build the cars in Japan and ship them here, what with the costs that union employees impose on them; and so while the union may not like this, the facts are that Toyota is more concerned with its own bottom line than it is with a plant it no longer needs.

Understand where the NUMMI plant comes from: it comes from a time when GM needed a quality boost and Toyota needed a toehold in the United States for building cars here. NUMMI was a partnership which enabled GM to sell Toyota cars under its "Geo" brand, and it was a way for Toyota to combat its image as a foreign car company.

(I'll get to that one in a moment.)

But neither company needs the NUMMI plant any longer. Toyota's got a nice non-union factory in Kentucky or Ohio or somewhere; and GM is on the skids. GM pulled out of the thing last year--hmm, six months ago, perhaps?--and Toyota is unwilling to continue to support an unneeded factory. Particularly one with excessive taxes, environmental costs, and union costs.

The statement continues, "...[T]he country is trying to claw its way out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. This is no time to close a highly successful manufacturing facility. California is one of the most important markets for Toyota." I would argue that--in the middle of the worst recession since the 1930s--that it is, in fact, the time to close a factory Toyota doesn't need. Those two statements don't go together; the factory may be "highly successful" but it doesn't mean the factory is economically useful.

And of course there has to be an environmental message: "At a time when responsible companies are doing everything possible to reduce global warming, Settles said, 'Toyota will now be increasing its carbon footprint by shipping cars from overseas and across the country for sale in California.'" Unless the NUMMI plant turns out every model in Toyota's lineup specifically for sale in California--which it ain't--Toyota is already shipping models from overseas and across the country for sale in the California market. Closing the NUMMI plant and shipping cars to California therefore represents only an incremental cost, both in terms of money and "carbon footprint". (That means that it will make an already-existing cost slightly larger.)
UAW Region 5 Director Jim Wells said that in addition to the 4,000 UAW-represented workers at the plant, Toyota’s decision will negatively affect up to 35,000 families in California whose livelihoods are tied to the facility. “This move will cause lasting hardship for the residents of California,” Wells said. “These are good-paying jobs that spur economic growth throughout the state and region.”

“This plant is a profound asset to Toyota. It has a highly experienced, diverse and award-winning workforce,” said Wells. “For a company that prides itself on quality and being a good member of the community, this decision is stunning.”
Obviously Toyota disagrees with you. What matters most to Toyota is whether or not it can profitably build cars there; and Toyota has concluded it cannot.

Some details about the closing would be useful. The members of the union are obviously angry because their jobs are going away; but they seem powerfully angry at the union leadership rather than Toyota itself. So I have to wonder: did the union leadership cut some kind of deal that the rank-and-file don't like?

In any case, you can expect that this is not the only example of this kind of thing taking place of late; and it won't be the last, either. The economy still sucks.

* * *

Toyota's image as a foreign car company: despite the plant(s) that Toyota has in the US, the money still ends up going to Japan. That's how you tell a domestic manufacturer from a foreign one: where the profit ends up. (Yes, this means that Chrysler, which is mostly owned by Fiat, is now a foriegn brand.)

* * *

The weasel-in-chief brought out some numbers and is telling us that GDP expanded by 5.7% in the fourth quarter.


GDP rises when imports drop. Imports have dropped because we're not buying as much stuff; Obama has started a trade war with China.

GDP rises when government spends money to subsidize commerce. "Cash for Clunkers".

GDP rises when government loans money to people. TARP etc. see?

The third quarter GDP figures which were initially released said the economy had grown at a rate of 3.5%; then they later revised the numbers downward to about 2.4%. Now we're being told that it's 5.7%, but what will the figures be revised to?

Even if you accept the latest figures uncritically, how the hell can there be that much real growth in the economy without job creation? How can there be that much real growth when 33% of our manufacturing capacity is producing nothing?

And the last freaking sentence of the article admits, "The robust performance closed out a year in which the economy contracted 2.4 percent, the biggest decline since 1946."

So overall, GDP for 2009 was 2.4% smaller than GDP for 2008.

MSNBC, unapologetically pro-Obama.

* * *

Coming soon to a teaching hospital near you: unauthorized pelvic exams so medical students can learn how to do them!

"Guidelines in the United States and Britain say specific consent is required but, by contrast, Canadian guidelines state that pelvic examination by trainees is 'implicit.'"

Canada, socialized medicine. What did you expect?

* * *

"Homosexuality is punishable by death under islam."

* * *

Tiller's killer has been found guilty. That's good.

* * *

Pelosi has a hefty bar tab from Air Force plane trips. $100k out of a total of $2.1 million total for her travel tab.

Where's the press? Does anyone in the mainstream media care about this casual waste?

Apparently not.

* * *

Two links from

"How to avoid being a racist." It's got a clip of Chris Matthews embedded from when he said that he forgot Obama was black.

...WTF does Obama's skin color have to do with anything?

Legislating prosperity, one job at a time! Point two is apt: "We should have created a “robust jobs bill” many months ago and avoided all our economic woes."

Yeah, where the hell was this jobs bill thing nine months ago? I might still have a job if Obama had been on the ball!

* * *

One rarely sees such well-crafted sarcasm.

* * *

I desperately need this. I don't know what car I would use it with--maybe find a good Chevette or something--but damn it, it's just made of awesome and cool.

I would want two skis up front, rather than one; and I think it'd be best to use with a car that has either a locking or limited-slip rear axle out back--but given that, it would be a blast to hoon around in something like that.

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